The Center for Complexity at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) is a platform for transdisciplinary collaboration and innovation, informed by global events and creative practices, founded to benefit scholars, practitioners, a diverse range of partners, and the RISD community.

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The most pressing problems we face today are sprawling beasts, crossing borders and boundaries, with little regard for the carefully constructed silos that characterize 20th Century knowledge and practice.

We are interested in systems and their big challenges. We believe they must be addressed by methods that link minds, disciplines, geographies, and scales.

We work between research and realization, bridging pedagogy and practice.

Joining a global conversation about the what and why of complexity, we seek to understand the how.

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Society needs new mindsets and practices for approaching complex issues differently. Redesigning systems for an era of unavoidable interdependence is an integrative effort — a shared responsibility beyond any one owner, discipline, or academic tradition.

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News, Events, and Opportunities

Read about some of our current efforts on opioids, addiction, equity and systemic change. 

September 21–23 2022 — speakers, panel discussions, and group inquiry into the meaning and consequences of collapse.

We are pleased to announce plans for our fourth annual symposium. Once again live on RISD’s campus after two years of COVID-necessitated virtual events, the 2022 symposium will focus on collapse in relation to the dynamic and static forces of systems change. Speakers, panel discussions and group inquiry will advance a collective understanding of the meaning and consequences of collapse. From September 21–23 10:00am–5:00pm. Free and open to the public.

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Borrowing from RISD’s 140+ year legacy of studio-based learning dedicated to practice, the Center develops the mindsets necessary for improving how we act within environments and organizations where uncertainty are the norm.

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