IA40620 Systemic Approaches, Interdisciplinary Solutions

Academic Year 2021/2022


The aim of this module is to develop your Sustainability Mindset: enabling you to take a systems and design thinking approach to enabling a sustainable future for everyone.

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we
created them” › Einstein, 1946

The challenges of sustainability are inherently complex and beyond the remit of any one discipline or sector.

Over the course of this module you will work in multidisciplinary teams on a series of real-world challenges and projects across different key sectors (e.g. food, built environment, transport, energy, retail and finance). You will use systems and design thinking approaches to engage with complex challenges in order to co-create innovative, sustainable solutions.

You will be introduced to key concepts, theories and terms in Sustainability (covering Environmental Economic and Social perspectives, as well as the Sustainability Development Goals) as well as the history of the field and key questions and schools of thought facing into the future.

You will be introduced to Systems Thinking approaches - theories, methodologies, processes tools and apply them in your project.

Focusing on the context in Ireland, you will gain an overview of 3 to 5 key sectors (e.g. food, built environment, transport, energy, retail and finance) examine the challenges of Sustainability within each them from Environmental, Economic and Social lens respectively.

You will also be expected to undertake significant self-directed study to gain a broad understanding of the sectors and related aspects of Sustainability as relevant to your projects.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this module you will be able to:

Bring a broad perspective of the wider context around Sustainability including key concepts, theories, terms, trends and underlying issues, with an appreciation of synergies and conflicting approaches across sectors, an understanding of the systemic nature of the challenges and the need for systemic solutions.

Appropriately select, apply and evaluate the effective and appropriate use of Systems and Design Thinking approaches and tools to create innovative user-centric solutions to complex real-world sustainability problems, across a wide variety of domains and sectors.

Work effectively in a multidisciplinary professional team, with Sustainability Practitioners from Environmental, Economic and Social perspectives to take a systemic, multidisciplinary approach to developing sustainable solutions.

Individually and as a member of a multi-disciplinary team, be able to effectively communicate and justify (in person, online and in writing) a proposed solution, with supporting evidence, key insights and awareness of assumptions, to both a specialist audience (including key decision-makers for the proposed solution) and a wider general audience.

Be able to actively and independently reflect upon your experiences and approach to learn, to enhance decision-making and to draw deeper lessons to inform your future approach as well as to engage in self-directed study to seek relevant information from a diverse multitude of sources.

Bring awareness of relevant and possible career pathways to future career decisions

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Small Group




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
All Innovation Academy modules take a learning by doing approach, combining, individual, group and team activities, tasks and projects including presentations, discussion and reflection:

• Activity/task-based learning
• Peer and Group work
• Reflective Learning
• Enquiry & Problem-based learning
• Student Presentations
• Guest Speakers

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Presentation: Project Presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Assignment: Reflection Report Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Continuous Assessment: Online and offline tasks and activities Throughout the Trimester n/a Pass/Fail Grade Scale Yes


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given to students upon request. This will include feedback based on their participation during the module and their deliverables