EDPX 2300 Systems Syllabus

This course studies the fundamental concepts of systems, both analog and digital, analyzing how structure and operation combine to produce complex results and effect change in the world. Students will learn how the components of digital systems from simple electronics to complex software and distributed networks function systematically to solve problems and share information. Through study of the development of the computer, the Internet, and digital interfaces students will gain a critical understanding of how these systems have been historically shaped. Reading, writing, and making will synthesize practice and critical ideas.


By the end of this course students will be able to:


Being passionate about a certain focus or course of study can/should be utilized within this course. Do not, however, let this completely define how you approach exploration and discussion. Strive to be open and attentive of new avenues of interest, especially those put forward by your peers.


This course is structured as a combination of short lectures, discussions, project work, and presentations.

The major assignments are:

Design exercises: Design exercises will be conducted throughout the quarter. The emphasis on these exercises is on rapid, intuitive aesthetic response and experimentation. Design exercises will be described and debriefed in class in terms of theory and potential techniques for materialization. Four potential exercises will be carried out through the quarter on exploratory topics. Post results, documentation, and comments on your media blog.

Major projects: Projects 1 & 2 will be experimental connections on your path to the realization of the full-scale final network mediated/online project. These preliminary projects may be relied upon as meta data elements for the development and assembly of your final work and yield supporting documentation of the underlying process involved in realizing the final project. Details can be found on the indiviual project pages:


Deliverables: You are expected to complete 3 major projects and 3-4 in-class exercises.

Intellectual rigor: Be thorough and curious in your work & take it to the level of detail it requires. Think beyond "what do I need to finish this assignment" and into "what do I want to explore and present next?"

Readings & Discussion: You will be required to read & respond to several short texts/videos & prepare for discussion in class.

Presentations: You will be required to present your 3 major projects. You are not limited to PowerPoint or Keynote, but presentations should be prepared beforehand using the best tool(s) for your chosen medium.

Stuff You Need For Class

Sketchbook: A real, paper sketchbook for system drawing, design, and troubleshooting aka working out ideas before making anything. Use it, bring it to class, and be prepared to produce it during discussions and presentations.

Media blog: This is an online "sketchbook" where you will compile all rough project sketches, writings, storyboards, architectures, and related materials to the works in progress and finished works. The blog sites will be viewed, and class responses will be ongoing throughout the quarter.

You can use a free service like wordpress.com, tumblr.com, etc or set up an equivalent on your own website if you have hosting. As an addendum, you'll probably want to open a Youtube and/or Vimeo account for your project documentation videos.

Cultural Events

The attendance/participation to a minimum of 3 cultural events is required. For this course, cultural events should be in the field of New/Digital Media.

For each event create a document with the title, date, 2-4 images from the event, 1-2 sentence description, as well as a brief and concise paragraph of your impressions. A final record of the cumulative events will be compiled and submitted with final deliverables for the quarter.

Do not wait until the end of the quarter!

Text & Readings

All required readings/viewings/listenings will be assigned from the course website schedule page. Required readings will be referenced from online sources or as linked PDF files on the course website. Readings will be assigned and referenced 2 class sessions previous to discussion and related presentations. Please refer to the schedule page for reading assignments and discussion dates.

The following texts are suggested additional sources for reference and consultation:

Systems Theory

Thinking in Systems: A Primer, Donella H. Meadows, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2008.
The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, Fritjof Capra, Cambridge Press, 2014.


Diversity and Complexity, Scott Page, Princeton Press, 2010.

Additional reference will be made available via on-line sources from the course web site links under the resources page.


Work will be graded on the basis of fulfillment of course requirements combined with an assessment of effort, creativity, risk, participation, and individual growth. Grades will be assigned as follows:

Fulfilling the requirements of the course is considered average and will earn a "C." Every student starts the class with a "C" grade. It will be necessary to work outside of class to complete all projects and assignments. Additional effort will be necessary to earn higher grades.


Attendance: Three or more unexcused absences result in the drop of a letter grade. Being late three times counts as an unexcused absence. An unexcused absence from any critique or portion of a critique will constitute the drop of a letter grade.

Absence: Contact me ahead of time if you are going to be absent. I expect reasonable circumstances, not convenience. You're here to learn, right?

Illness: If you are sick, please avoid contact with others and refrain from coming to class. If you are too ill to return to class and miss more than three classes, this may be sufficient grounds to assign a grade of "I"/incomplete.

Participation: You are required and encouraged to engage in class discussions & critiques. I recognize some students may be shy or arrive at interesting ideas after class, in that case feel free to contact me and we can arrange time for a one-on-one discussion.

Quality of Work: All creative work under consideration for critique or discussion should be of a completed/finished quality that warrants the attention and respect of your cohorts. No excuses or explanations.

Assignments: Late assignments are only accepted with permissions of the instructor. You'll lose 10% per day late up to a max of 7 days late.

Honor code: All work submitted in this course must be your own and produced exclusively for this course. The use of sources (ideas, quotations, paraphrases) must be properly acknowledged and documented. See the DU Honor Code for details.

Religious accommodations: DU students are granted excused absences from class if needed for observance of religious holy days but should contact instructors to make alternate arrangements during the first week of class. See DU's religious accommodations policy.

Disabilities: If you qualify for academic accommodations because of a disability or medical issue please submit a Faculty Letter to me from the Disability Services Program (DSP) by the end of the first week of class.

Students who have disabilities (i.e., physical, medical, mental, emotional and learning) and who want to request accommodations should contact the Disability Services Program (DSP); 303.871.2372;1999 E. Evans Ave.; 4th floor of Ruffatto Hall. Information is also available online at www.du.edu/dsp; see Handbook for Students with Disabilities.

Student Athletes: DU sponsors National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student-athletes at the undergraduate level in seventeen different sports. Student-Athlete Support Services are in place to assist these students in their academic work. According to their policies:

Student-athletes are responsible for informing their instructors of any class days to be missed due to DU sponsored varsity athletic events in which s/he are participating. Student-athletes are provided with a schedule of travel dates that coincide with class dates and an absence policy to present to instructors. This must be signed by the instructor and is the student-athletes responsibility to return the signed forms to an assigned athletics adviser. In the event that a team reaches post-season play (i.e. Conference or NCAA Tournament), letters will be sent to instructors informing them of additional missed class dates. It is the responsibility of the student-athlete to make arrangements with instructors regarding any missed lectures, assignments, and/or exams.