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I feel that my knowledge and practice of different thinking methods have definitely grown after taking this class. At the beginning of the class, I was uncertain what it meant to think systemically, or rather, how to approach thinking systemically. A wide range of topics from many disciplines can benefit from a systems approach. It is beneficial to think in the broad sense, and to identify the many cycles and systems that exist within an overarching presence rather than focus solely on a single aspect of a larger whole. The latter type of thinking normally generates little progress. So for me, I feel that the way in which we approached all of our discussions through a systems lens was immensely helpful and allowed for even better understanding, and thoughtful transgression through our ideas.

I appreciated that fact that each of the weeks’ topics felt cumulative and inter-related. Certain “buzz words” that were present throughout the semester were definitely phrases and ideas that I felt I maybe could grasp before this class, but now have a much deeper, unified understanding of and their many applications. What I appreciated about this class was that we were often not simply addressing these important topics such as climate change, sustainability, equity, and justice, but also addressed and cultivated the language with which we discussed them. I feel that my vocabulary grew in the realms of these topics, and it makes me feel that much more prepared to discuss them with my peers, and address them in my design work, and life in general – which is ultimately the main goal.

Throughout the semester, I must admit that I felt a little apathetic toward the work we were doing in this class. I felt myself asking, “What is this amounting to? What is our end-goal?” But sometimes it is important to note that a change in thinking and methods of thinking is something that is intangible, and often not appreciated until looked at from another perspective, such as I am doing now at the end of this semester. I guess studying design makes you so focused on “the visual” that it is easy to forget the theoretical and idealogical systems at work, which are just as important.

Though this striving for the tangible, the visual was definitely satisfied in my final RAD project. It was extremely gratifying to be able to flex my systems thinking muscle, which I had built up throughout the semester, and utilize it to create something that felt very comprehensive, personal, beautiful, and successful – my designs for my hometown’s community garden. I appreciated being able to collect specific pieces of wisdom from Kimberly and our guest speakers’ presentations and use it to craft my own project. Ideas such as social capital, granting importance through design, increased resilience through community involvement, circular systems, and leveraging personal privilege all proved to be immensely vital in my design.

Overall, I am very pleased with the personal progress I was able to make in this class, through relating to and discussing with my peers and applying a systems approach to graphic design, which ultimately has led to my growing role as a more active, conscious, and resilient designer and climate citizen.

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