With a focus on “ecological systems”, the second of four lectures planned for the Systemic Design course in the Master’s program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University proceeded as a timeboxed presentation: targeting 40 minutes of content (skipping slides to stay within time constraints), followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Since the slides are rich with content and links to sources, students were directed to pay attention to what I was saying, over trying to read the slides projected behind me.
The agenda was in four sections:
[preamble] Errors, Attention and Traps (Ecological Understanding)
Systems Changes Learning Circle (Bateson, Gibson, Ingold)
(Resistances to) Changing as primary system of interest
A. Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective
Tavistock Institute (Emery, Trist)
Organization as primary system of interest
B. (Social-) Ecological Systems + Panarchy
Stockholm Resilience Centre (Holling, Walker, Peterson)
Ecology as primary system of interest
C. The Ecosystem Approach
Resilience Alliance (Waltner-Toews, Kay)
Sustainable development project as primary system of interest
Online, the video is available on Youtube for streaming.
Viewers who prefer to watch video on a disconnected device can download a video file. Read more...(407 words, 1 image, estimated 1:38 mins reading time)
This lecture begins with the rising interest in “systems change”, that is related to “theory of change” from funders of social innovation programs. From there, the lecture aims to recast (speak in a different way) and reify (make some specified ideas more prominent) an understanding of systems thinking.
The presentation was overprepared — we can’t predict how engaged students will be on the ideas, before their brains are full. Of 55 slides, we stopped on slide 37. For streaming, the video is accessible on Youtube. (with a 6-minute excerpt on the Luoyang Bay abalone farms from the documentary Watermark, by Edward Burtynsky, removed).
Viewers who prefer to watch video on a disconnected device can download a video file. Read more...(617 words, 1 image, estimated 2:28 mins reading time)
This dialogue-oriented workshop will be framed by two short position papers (< 30 minutes each) towards energizing a discussion on the prospects for systems thinking and ecological economics.
(1) Systems Changes research program
Shifting the emphasis from stable states to a fluid world, what patterns describe shifts due to (i) human will, and (ii) nature? The Systems Changes program aims to extend research from the 1970s (e.g. West Churchman systems approach; Horst Rittel wicked problems; Christopher Alexander pattern language; Eric Trist and Cal Pava action learning) with 21st century advances (e.g. holons and hierarchy theory; resilience science; ecological anthropology; open sourcing).
(2) Environmental Deterioration: What have we learned about systems change(s) over the past 50 years?
Since the 1960s, nations have enacted regulations towards environment issues, sustainability of resources and stewardship of the environment: USA EPA (1969); Canadian EPA (1988/1999); EU Treaty of Maastricht (1993). Yet in 2009, the Stockholm Resilience Centre declared that human activity has exceeded two thresholds of nine planetary boundaries. Is it too late for the human race to act, or even to try? The 1979 Ph.D. dissertation on “Regulation of Environmental Deterioration” from the University of Pennsylvania will be considered retrospectively.
(3) Dialectic: Group Discussion
In an open group discussion, in what ways might a shift from “systems thinking” towards “systems changes” make a difference (or not)?
At the conference, we had a relaxed and wide-ranging conversation
In synthesizing some appreciation of the discussion from that workshop, we decided that I would take the lead on trying to capture some of the ideas. Final revisions were accepted in October, and magazine production was completed by December. Here’s a rendering of the preprint. Read more...(2936 words, 1 image, estimated 11:45 mins reading time)
Joining these online platforms may not be as convenient as having a commercial enterprise “take care” of communications amongst individuals. While I personally participate (and am named in groups of administrators) on most major social platforms involving systems thinking, my depth of involvement is consciously selective based on terms and conditions. On a Dec. 23 thread on The Ecology of Systems Thinking group on Facebook, I responded to some questions, and have permission to repost the exchange publicly. Read more...(2044 words, 2 images, estimated 8:11 mins reading time)
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