Expert network for Systemic Co-design

"Working on major social challenges with professional partners, researchers and labs."

No single individual or organisation on its own can solve the major social challenges – which include climate change, ageing, cybercrime, and privacy issues – we face today. These complex issues require a joint approach based on different perspectives and a focus on the sustainable changes that need to be made on societal level.

Inholland University of Applied Sciences, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences have all joined forces in the Expert network for Systemic Co-Design (ESC). Working together as a collective group focusing on concrete cases, from different parts of the country, helps to make it possible to develop a systemic co-design approach which facilitates relevant transitions needed in society.

Dutch? Read more here

Solving social issues

ESC builds a metaphorical bridge between different systems, research, and education and between theory and practice. For example, it is working with partners and students in various knowledge centres and labs with a view to solving social issues and developing systemic co-design methods further.

One such example is the project for Safety Delta Nederland, where the theory of two universities of applied sciences where combined and further developed with the help of Fundamentals, who are a partner in ESC. The project focussed on safety culture at Chemelot.

The Co-design Canvas

Wina Smeenk publishes useful tool for co-design processes

Societal challenges are urgent and affect everyone, including politicians, citizens, government officials, business professionals, NGOs, designers and researchers. Understanding and addressing these challenges is difficult because no single stakeholder or organisation is solely responsible. Everything is interconnected and constantly changing, resulting in challenges being neglected and stakeholders being unable or unwilling to make important decisions.

The Co-Design Canvas is a practical and user-friendly tool that supports flexible planning, conducting, and evaluating of co-design processes for multi-stakeholder coalitions and facilitators. The Canvas: 

  • Helps you discover how to facilitate open and transparent dialogue.
  • Is a useful tool for initiating, planning, conducting and assessing collaborations.
  • Learns you about inclusivity and effective collaboration in addressing societal challenges.

More about Wina's publication

Download Co-Design Canvas

What can you contribute to a more sustainable society?

The transition to a sustainable society is often seen as a challenge that is too complex to even contribute anything yourself. In her interview with Kees Klomp, Wina explains why this does not need to be the case if we apply the principles used in the design world. By doing so, we can create a society that works for everyone. Watch the video with English subtitles below or read the interview (written in Dutch).

Read the interview (Dutch)

Feel inspired and want more information?

We welcome network partners with new, appropriate issues and research projects.

Contact us

The Expert network for Systemic Co-Design

Inholland University of Applied Sciences, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences work together in ESC to perform design-oriented research on methods which expedite societal transitions. Armed with a SPRONG grant from the Taskforce for Applied Research (Regieorgaan SIA), seven professors from the universities of applied sciences mentioned earlier launched ESC with the aim of developing an approach together. The Expert network for Systemic Co-design will spend the next eight years exploring projects and cases together with partners and labs. During this time, they will identify an approach to provide a starting point for uncertain change processes.

A bridge between disciplines

Our network enables us to combine different disciplines, which is key to systemic co-design. As systemic co-design focusses on the combined knowledge and expertise of change management, innovation science, organisational psychology, group dynamics, empathetic design, co-design and design thinking. We will specifically consider innovations in a circular society, a responsible digital society, and a healthy, social and safe society.

Cases from professional practice

We aim to deploy current applications of the systemic perspective and co-design in new combinations and in different fields and by doing so, validate and deepen their impact. We will address cases from professional practice, from which we will learn together. The question is which models and (working) methods can be used to tackle pressing social challenges in a new and creative way? Amongst other things, we want to develop practical tools for companies, authorities, knowledge institutions, interest groups and citizen initiatives.

A growing network

In the first four years of the project, we will work on a Systemic Co-design Framework and Toolbox. In the second phase, we will share the knowledge we have gained with a broader audience working together with Dutch and international partners. As mentioned above, society benefits from a robust Co-Design team. Therefore, we are always open to forming new partnerships. Working with as many relevant stakeholders as possible, across system boundaries, will enable us to start a movement that will accelerate our network’s social impact.


Would you like to be involved in the development of solutions to a broad social issue or use your expertise and creativity to test new methods and processes in lab environments? Then we would like to hear from you! Contact us and find out how you can become part of ESC.

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News about Expert network for Systemic Co-design

Wina  Smeenk
Wina  Smeenk
Wina Smeenk

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