Environmental Studies
This MOOC is the first part of an interconnected series of four MOOCs on Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems (DRRS) which bring together science, design and transformative praxis as a fluid, intervention-based and synergistic process for addressing complex challenges. This is explored through extending our worldviews, reframing complexity, designing as nature, activating our minds through physical movement, and connecting with new communities of practice. Successful completion of MOOC#1 is your gateway to enter the ETH Zurich DRRS executive degree program, with the first Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS).

Course Details

Language English
Duration 12 weeks
Effort 2-4 hrs/week


Climate change, biodiversity loss and pan-syndemics are some of today’s most pressing complex challenges. Much of our economies and societies are exhaustive, vulnerable, and unfair. We need to actively restore and regenerate ecosystems and their services while transforming our economies to become more circular and just. We require new knowledge systems and cultures leading to transformative action as the human impact on earth needs to be fundamentally redesigned.

Scientific knowledge and reasoning are the fundamental tools to guide policy and management decisions, especially in times of crises. But the limitations of reductionist science are evident due to the lack of widespread action in addressing today's highly complex challenges, which are self-emergent, unpredictable, span across nested scales, depend on societal behavioral transitions, and lack data.

Design disciplines offer creative ways of prototyping solutions in an iterative way. Design responds to a current problem by proposing future pathways, through a feedback exchange from praxis. Designerly praxis can benefit from science, for example by directing interventions and leveraging relationships based on quantitative data. Neither the analytical and descriptive tools of science, nor the iterative process of design alone are adequate for addressing complex challenges. Combining both cultures and methods of reasoning as a fluid, intervention-based and synergistic process is beneficial for fostering the regenerative, transformative action that is urgently required.

Therefore, this MOOC series entitled “Designing Resilient Regenerative Systems” (DRRS) offers four consecutive MOOCs that aim to address these urgent and complex challenges. Participants are invited on a learning journey that includes emphasis on extending our worldviews, concepts like regeneration and resilience, befriending complexity and uncertainty, methods and hybrid practices of science and design, meta-design and the seeing of patterns and root causes, connecting more with our inner self, and becoming bio-regional weavers within communities of transformational learning and praxis.

This first MOOC places global crises in context with local and regional examples for planetary health. Participants build consciousness by questioning the dominant reductionist worldviews that drive our global societies and learn ways of rethinking our relationship with nature as a holistic approach of “interbeing,” which places humans as part of the broader web of life.


What you will learn


This MOOC series is about creating positive impact in complex systems. It is about navigating complexity and uncertainty with new tools and practices, such as “organic emergence”: Complex systems are inherently dynamic and unpredictable: their properties are emergent. An organic way to engage with emergence is to trust in having the right tools and techniques to adaptively cope with sudden surprises or challenges, and to reveal hidden opportunities. In this first MOOC “Regenerative Systems: Sustainability to Regeneration” you train your consciousness about dominant and alternative worldviews. You learn the roots of sustainability and pathways to regeneration. You acquire tools to reframe complexity and befriend uncertainty. You learn to reconnect with nature and to design as nature. You gain awareness through practices of physical and mental activation via self-compassion techniques and flow experiences in nature.

Exciting real-world illustrations take you to Hemsedal Norway, Annecy France, Ostana Italy, and Mallorca Spain. This offers a comparative understanding of communities and regions undergoing sustainability transitions across different contexts, cultures, climates and geographies.

The prominent content you will learn in this first MOOC are an update on the current state of sustainability science, different angles to understand regeneration, methods such as systemic design and systems-oriented design, resilience assessment, circularity mapping, visual dialogue, cross-scale design, “view from above” perspectives, biomimicry, transdisciplinary research, real-world elaboration, metadesign, and more.

The MOOCs’ didactics are designed to combine time and place independent virtual learning through pre-recorded conversations, both accessible as movies and audio files, readings, and practical engagement in nature. Virtual content stimulates physical and social interaction in the bio-region of the participants. An accompanying visual mapping process called Gigamapping acts as a designerly way to co-create your own learning journey and connect across the MOOC series to your final transformative design project. Your personal QUEST guides you through your learning journey. Our DRRS virtual network allows you to exchange with other MOOC participants and to find learning partners in your region where you live.




You should

  • be curious to expand from your own expertise and life situation and open for new thinking, philosophical discourse, designerly practice, and real-world infusion.

  • come with interest and motivation to find your role in contributing to a more sustainable and regenerative world, in various ways.

  • be willing to enact within the region you live in, physically, and actively connect with various stakeholders.

  • be open to challenge yourself: mentally, physically, socially.

For MOOC 1 you need no specific further prerequisites; the didactics are designed to be accessible to a very diverse audience, for current science or engineering students in diverse disciplines, for designers, architects, landscape planners, programmers, urban planners, and also for people of praxis, for those of use who have been working for many years and who want to re-connect, expand and redirect.


Course instructors

Detlev Günther

Detlef Günther was appointed as Assistant Professor at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of ETH Zurich in 1998 and became associate Professor in July 2003. Since February 2008 he is full Professor for Trace Element and Micro Analysis and since Jan…

Philippe Vandenbroeck


I have arrived at a point in my professional and personal development where it's crystal clear what contribution I want to make:

I want to help create spaces where life can be experienced as life.

Yes, I know it sounds tautological, but you get my drift. I…

Jeremy Lent

Jeremy Lent, described by Guardian journalist George Monbiot as “one of the greatest thinkers of our age,” is an author and speaker whose work investigates the underlying causes of our civilization’s existential crisis, and explores path…

Eric L. Berlow

Hi, I’m Eric. I’m a ‘social impact data scientist’. Academically trained in ecology, statistics, and network science; practically trained in the use of ‘big data’ (and revealing its abuse), I work with social mission co…

Ingrid Halland

Ingrid Halland is an architecture and design historian and art critic. She is associate professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design where she teaches at the PhD programme.​

Birger Sevaldson

Birger Sevaldson is one of the founding members of the design research network OCEAN (www.ocean-designresearch.net).

Fritjof Capra

"PhD, scientist, educator, activist, author at Systems View Lab
Fritjof Capra, Ph.D., is a scientist, educator, activist, and author of many international bestsellers that connect conceptual changes in science with broader changes in worldview and values i…

Daniel Christian Wahl

PhD, author, consultant, educator, activist, speaker, weaver, catalyst at International Futures Forum.
Book - Designing Regenerative Cultures.

Justyna Swat

Designer | Systems Oriented Architect at École nationale supérieure de création industrielle ENSCI–Les Ateliers Paris, Tiny Labs, MonViso Institute.
Systems oriented designer and trained architect. Founder of TinyLabs, design ass…

Tobias Luthe

Professor at ETH Zurich, AHO Oslo, MonViso Institute
Co-lead of the mountain resilience working group at the mountain research initiative MRI (University of Berne).
Co-founder of Grown, a design-as-nature lab and experience collective, winning industry awar…

ETH Zurich

Freedom and individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-mindedness: ETH Zurich stands on a bedrock of true Swiss values. Our university for science and technology dates back to the year 1855, when the founders of modern-day Switzerland crea…

58 instructors