Course Materials

Welcome to Regenerative Systems for Delivering the Good Life
[2 min]
by Denise DeLuca, Director of MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design Program


The Systems View
From The Biomimicry Institute’s Biomimicry Toolbox


Personal Growth Lessons From Permaculture: An Interview With Abrah Dresdale & Keith Zaltzberg
From the Omega Center for Sustainable Living


Essence of Permaculture: A Summary of Permaculture Concepts and Principles
Taken from ‘Permaculture Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability’ by David Holmgren

by Curt McNamara, Adjunct faculty in MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design Program
This video is an excerpt from the sustainable design course Systems Thinking.

Questions for reflection:

Spend some time reflecting on these questions and consider writing about what emerges for you. You can also use these questions to prompt discussions with your colleagues, friends, and family.

  • How might using Regenerative Systems contribute to Delivering The Good Life?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a systems thinker? In what ways?

Taking action: How might you use what you learn?

Take these actions to help solidify and make use of what you've just learned. You can also use these questions to prompt discussions with your colleagues, friends, and family.

  • List 3 ways that shifting your perspectives to Regenerative Systems could help you and/or your organization contribute to Delivering the Good Life.
  • List 3 specific actions you (or your organization) could take to begin reaping the benefits of Regenerative Systems.


Follow the instructions in the video to create two systems maps:

  • Map yourself!
    • What are the three most important systems you belong to?
    • How could you enhance those connections?
  • Map a client
    • What are the larger systems that your brand is embedded in?
    • How do they connect to those systems?
    • How can your brand and products enhance those connections and improve regeneratively?

Downloadable "cheat sheets" are available for each of these tools.


012: Natural Systems with Curt McNamara of MCAD [podcast]
by John Ackley | Feb 3, 2016
Curt McNamara, P.E. is a practicing designer with 30 years experience in medical, commercial, and industrial markets. An active Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers member, Curt received the IEEE Millennium Medal in 2000 for his ongoing work in education. He has worked with the Biomimicry Institute to create content for the Biomimicry Toolbox, is a Biomimicry Education Fellow, and helps with the Biomimicry Education Network. Curt created and teaches the Systems and Innovation courses for the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) Master of Sustainable Design, and works to ensure that every student gets a grounding in the techniques of biomimicry and systems thinking.

Rich Pictures and Systems Diagrams from Growing Wings On The Way [book]
by Rosalind Armson, Open University

Thinking in Systems: A Primer [book]
by Donella H. Meadows
In the years following her role as the lead author of the international bestseller, Limits to Growth―the first book to show the consequences of unchecked growth on a finite planet― Donella Meadows remained a pioneer of environmental and social analysis until her untimely death in 2001.
Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem-solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.
Some of the biggest problems facing the world―war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation―are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.
While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.
In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.


MCAD’s MA in Sustainable Design Program

Change your perspective. Change your designs. Change our world.

MCAD’s fully online Master of Arts in Sustainable Design program was created for busy working professionals who are passionate about sustainability. The program enlists a global community of students and world-class instructors working together to push the sustainability envelope forward across a variety of disciplines and industries.  

This program is ideal for students who are seeking a deep understanding of the cutting-edge theories, practical applications, and leadership strategies of sustainable design in order to forge new paths in this continually evolving field.

Just 30 credits and 5 semesters stand between you and your master's.

Complete the fully online program anytime, anywhere.

The MA in Sustainable Design blog page

Includes weekly blog posts; profiles of students, faculty, and alumni; and links to all past thesis project presentations.

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