An applied educational learning concept for “living system” fieldwork


  • Susu Nousala
  • Claudia Garduno Aalto University


term 4. sustainability, term 4. community engagement, term 3.methodological approaches, term 2. social complex adaptive systems, term 1.educational platforml experiences


The dynamic interactions of very large living systems in which we find ourselves existing and engaging with, can, at the very least be difficult to navigate, or at worst, dictate disastrous directions (Garduno et al. 2013). There have been various descriptions that are based more on perceptions that influence and stress different areas of sustainable development and sustainability. The Brundtland Report discussed the ‘inequality is the planet’s main “environ-mental” problem’ (WCED 1987, p 6), linking poverty and pollution, social justice with unsustainability. It did however; link these issues, even though there was a focus on the symptoms rather than the cause’ (Asghar 2001).

However, more recently it has been possible to view these issues as living systems, that are in themselves, adaptive complex systems, with many multiple components and properties (Nousala et al 2012: Nousala and Hall 2008: Hall et al 2010). Asghar (2001) discusses a broader perspective, by referring to the Brundtland Report (WCED 1987, p3) and the futility of focusing or dealing with the environmental problems without viewing these issues through a wider lens, to encompass the factors that underpin world poverty and international inequality.

These perceptions have also been challenged by increased understanding of richer based contexts, supported by multi-disciplinary processes of all kinds, not least of all, the expansion of educational platforms of exchange, that rely on action based research, but also statistical data base analysis.

This paper discusses the concepts of sustainability, community engagement, methodological approaches (through a social complex adaptive systems lens) and educational experiences based an educational pilot project, namely Aalto LAB Mexico (ALM). This experimental case study was based on previous research, current literature and fieldwork engagement with specific rural communities in Mexico (Garduno et al. 2013).

Author Biography

Claudia Garduno, Aalto University

Claudia is currently a doctoral researcher and designer with the Encore Research Group at Aalto University in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Her work has recently focused on in-depth field work and case study work, including organizing and project managing the Aalto LAB Mexico workshop 2012. Claudia’s knowledge of the methods and approaches in field in this region are now extensive, but what is more valuable is her commitment to this type of work due her conviction that it is well worth the effort.



How to Cite

Nousala, S., & Garduno, C. (2014). An applied educational learning concept for “living system” fieldwork. Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2013 HaiPhong, Vietnam, 1(1). Retrieved from



Designing Educational Systems