The Participatory Systems initiative is headed by prof. dr. Frances Brazier. The initiative is part of the Systems Engineering Section at the Faculty of Technology Policy and Management at the Delft University of Technology.

Participatory Systems

Connectivity is changing the ways in which individuals, organisations and society as a whole, work, play, live and learn. As new structures for (self-)governance and empowerment, new forms of presence and engagement, and new challenges for trust and integrity emerge in today’s networked society, so does the need for a new design paradigm – the design paradigm for participatory systems.

Participatory systems are large-scale social-technical systems enabled by technology/connectivity, coordinating and orchestrating self-organisation, designed to provide individuals and organisations the ability to act and take responsibility in today’s networked society.

Our research agenda focuses on the design of participatory systems, with both fundamental and applied research, most often conducted together with stakeholders, experts, and citizens.

Research through design is the primary method of research, with distributed (multi-agent) simulation to explore needs, desires, requirements and effects of emergent system behaviour, creating (situational) awareness. Artistic research explores fundamentals of design.

Participatory systems designed and studied within the Systems Engineering Group include international food chain management, distributed energy management, supply-demand networks, crisis management, citizen participation systems, and health management – all complex systems with multiple stakeholders.

Design Principles

The leading design principles are:

  • design for trust: social acceptance, transparency, security
  • design for autonomy: empowerment, self-management and self-regulation
  • design for human-system interaction: engagement and collaboration

Research Themes

The core research themes within Systems Engineering are:

  • self-organisation and Resilience
  • co-creation in Merging Realities
  • multi-agent Systems and Distributed Simulation
  • design and Artistic Research
  • norms and Values



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