For Whom

By Whom

The View From Above

Fly drones and learn to use critical systems thinking to tackle sustainability challenges in a wonderful alpine setting

September 2020

In humankind’s history the emancipation of the view from above is a recent event. Only 150 years ago Nadar realised the first photographic images from a hot air balloon.Today we have become used to seeing our wider environment from drones, planes, and satellites.

The questions we want to explore in this program are: what can we continue to learn from this special vantage point “from above” in relation to the global challenges we are facing today? How can we balance a macro- and a micro- perspective, a systemic and holistic approach with local, place-based knowledge?

We will approach these questions from three perspectives: an experiential, a conceptual and a practical. The experiential angle will give participants the opportunity to learn to fly drones and to gain a technologically-mediated bird’s eye view. We will practice photography on the macro and micro level — often, similar patterns arise at different scales. The theoretical angle will metaphorically translate the view from above into a systems perspective. More specifically we will learn how to use ‘critical systems thinking’ to guide our enquiry into complex, sustainability challenges. Finally, we will leverage this freshly gained perspective in working on a real-life case that relates to the specific setting of this program: the viability of fragile, high-altitude alpine settlements in an age of rapid ecological and demographic change.

The program will be held on the mountain campus of the Monviso Institute, in the village of Ostana just a few kilometers from the sources
of the great Po river and facing the highest peak of the Mediterranean Alps — Monte Viso. The Institute is an evolving playful mountain hub for research, education and entrepreneurship in sustainability transformations and social-ecological design, where rich traditional place-based knowledge merges with modern technology.

This program is offered immediately ahead of the Seventh RSD Symposium (RSD7)‘Challenging Complexity by Systemic Design towards Sustainability’, hosted by the Politecnico di Torino in Turin (Italy). The mountain campus of the Monviso Institute is only an hour’s drive away from the symposium location.