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The Sustainable Development Goals: Origins, Context, and Perspectives | ST-ON | 2023-05-08

Within the Systems Thinking Ontario community, we were fortunate to have Nenad Rava step up to explain how the Sustainable Development Goals came to be, and relate them to systems change.

This May session of Systems Thinking Ontario was a quick follow-on for the March edition on Ecological Limits to Development: Living with the SDGs.  March was a launch for a scholarly book.  In May, the self-introductions at the beginning of our session confirmed that attendees were open to hearing more about the history of the SDGs, and what they mean to us, today.

To allow more time for the three discussion periods in the progressivbe presntation, asked participants for a quick check-in via text chat.  The introducton to the book started after 3m12s in.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
May 8
(1h39m)
[20230508_ST-ON Rava_SDGs 1920×1080.mp4]
(FHD 1920×900 206kbps 238MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
May 8
(1h39m)
[20230313_ST-ON EcologicalLimitsToDevelopment.m4a]
(90 MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

Here is the original abstract sent in advance.


Within the Systems Thinking Ontario community, we have an authority on the Sustainable Development Goals with Ned (Nenad Rava), Head of Programmes, Joint SDG Fund. The interest in the March 2023 ST-ON session peaked some interest into unpacking the history and trajectory of the SDGs.… Read more (in a new tab)

Ecological Limits to Development: Living with the SDGs | ST-ON | 2023-03-13

The book Ecological Limits to Development: Living with the Sustainable Development Goals, published in 2002 by Routledge, was released as open access in 2023 by Taylor-Francis for readers who don’t have access to a university library.

For the March edition of Systems Thinking Ontario, we were honoured to celebrate the release with editor-coauthors Kaitlin Kish and Stephen Quilley.  They were joined by contributing authors Sophia Sanniti and Kathryn Gwiazdon.  (There was minor confusion with two Katies/Katys on the call).

In a departure from the usual circle of introductions, we asked participants for a quick check-in via the chat.  The introducton to the book started after 3m15s in, with questions-answers beginning after 1h03m.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
March 13
(1h42m)
[20230313_ST-ON EcologicalLimitsToDevelopment_1920x900.m4v]
(HDPlus 1920×900 1197kbps 1.04GB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
March 13
(1h52m)
[20230313_ST-ON EcologicalLimitsToDevelopment.m4a]
(103 MB)

Katie Kish started the session by describing the origins of the book, as a discussion between her and her doctoral supervisor.  I recognized some of the themes from her 2018 University of Waterloo thesis, Ecological Economic Development Goals: Reincorporating the social sphere in ecological economic theory and practice.  Katie unfortunately had to leave the discussion after 1h25m, leaving responses to her coauthors for the last half hour.… Read more (in a new tab)

Systems Changes Learning: Recasting and reifying rhythmic shifts for doing, alongside thinking and making | JSCI

A special issue on “Sustainable, Smart and Systemic Design Post-Anthropocene: Through a Transdisciplinary Lens” in the Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics edited by Marie Davidová, Susu Nousala, and Thomas J. Marlowe has been released. In that issue, the journey of the Systems Changes Learning Circle from 2019 through 2022 is reviewed.

The editorial team, in the introductory article, wrote some descriptions about the contribution.

In the first paper, Ing (2023) presents an overview of the history, background, and philosophy of System Change Learning, integrating classical Chinese thought with Western professional practices to revisit the Aristotelean trilogy of doing (praxis), thinking (theoria) and making (poiesis) to construct a distinctly inter-/trans-disciplinary and collaborative approach that unifies the three.

The first paper invites a change of perspective through thinking based on in-depth exploration and explanation of the background, and philosophical approach of systemic learning, and the relationship to change. The author does this by introducing us to the concept of System Change Learning and unpacking the potential and versatility of this thinking for future applications, in particular, collaborative approaches.

This is the first fully peer-reviewed article about Systems Changes Learning in an academic journal!

Here’s the published abstract.


Abstract

Entering 2023, the Systems Changes Learning Circle completed in its fourth year of 10-year journey on “Rethinking Systems Thinking”. In a contextural action learning approach, the Circle has elevated rhythmic shifts as the feature that both resonates with practitioners in the field, and fits with a post-colonial philosophy of science bridging classical Chinese thought with Western professional practices.… Read more (in a new tab)

Appreciating Systems Changes via Multiparadigm Inquiry | ISSS 2022 Proceedings

In the ISSS 2022 Plenary talk, the first 25 minutes were a blast through (a) the rising interest in system(s) change(s); (b) appreciative systems (Vickers); (c1) the philosophy of architectural design; (c2) the philosophy of ecological anthropology; (c3) the philosophy of Classical Chinese Medicine; (c4) the philosophy of rhythms; and (d) methods of multiparadigm inquiry, and open theorizing.

The formal publication of the manuscript in the Proceedings of the 66th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences unpacks the content for those with an interest in really understanding the breadth of domains that the Systems Changes Learning Circle has explored, from 2019 through 2022.

This proceedings release is a milestone, as a coherent work that has been lightly reviewed. In a more thorough process of peer review, a publication may be further refined by anonymous comments requesting clarification of some points, or suggestions that some sections could be abbreviated. My style of writing presumes that readers might not know all of the references, so I’m explicit about sources. (This also helps me remember from whom I’m learning!)

Here’s the abstract, as it appears in the proceedings.


Abstract

In which ways is the subject of systems change(s), as a first-class concept, distinct from a reduction into (i) systems and (ii) changes? For practice, theory, and methods to be authentically rigourous, the philosophy underlying an approach to systems changes can be explicated. Through an appreciative systems framework, presumptions are surfaced as to (i) what are and are not systems changes; (ii) when, where, and for whom, systems changes are prioritized for attention; and (iii) how systems changes should be addressed.… Read more (in a new tab)

Sensemaking and Theory-Building | Gary S. Metcalf | ST-ON 2023-02-13

The theme for the February online meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario was sparked from the discussion from the January session on Root Metaphor and World Hypotheses.  What does it mean to have a theory?  How does sensemaking contribute to this?

Gary Metcalf volunteered to guide a conversation on these topics.  Two prereadings were to serve as an orientation for the diligent:

A smaller group convened for this discussion, enabling full participation by each and every attendee.  After a quick round of introductions , the conversation started around 4m20s in.

This recording of the session is available on Youtube, as well as on the Internet Archive .

Video H.264 MP4
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4v]
(QHD 2560×1440 265kbps 289MB)
[on the Internet Archive]

A standalone audio was also created during the meeting.

Audio
February 13
(1h42m)
[20230213_ST-ON_Metcalf SensemakingTheoryBuilding.m4a]
(94.2MB)

The conversation flowed naturally.  I commented that before Gary was a professor of organizational systems, he had a prior career in family therapy.

Here is the original abstract sent in advance.


Some ideas have become everyday words.… Read more (in a new tab)

World Theories as Analytic-Deductive, Dispersive-Integrative

Philosophy underlies the distinction in the three volumes of the Tavistock Anthology:  founded on the World Hypotheses of Stephen C. Pepper, the Socio-Psychological Systems Perspective and the Socio-Technical Systems Perspectives are based on Organicism, while the Socio-Ecological Systems Perspective is based on Contextualism.

This thread on contextualism can be traced from the association between E.C. Tolman and Pepper in 1934, through the publication by Emery & Trist in 1965.

Fred Emery, in the edited paperback on Systems Thinking: Selected Readings (1969), cites World Hypotheses (1942) as a precedent to systems theory.  Stephen C. Pepper described the four Relatively Adequate World Hypotheses as two treatments with polarities, that can be structured into a 2-by-2 matrix, shown in Table 1.

Table 1:
Four relatively adequate world hypotheses
World Hypothesis Dispersive Integrative
Analytic
Formism
Root metaphor:
Similarity, as a recurrence of recognizable features
Mechanism
Root metaphor:
Machine, where exerting force or energy produces predictable outcomes
Synthetic
Contextualism
Root metaphor:
Situation, as a historic event in its living actuality
Organicism
Root metaphor:
Constructive development, with orderliness of changes from stage to stage

Pepper named four distinct world hypotheses with unfamiliar names, and coupled them loosely with prior philosophical schools. With each world theory, a root metaphor is induced.

  • Formism is associated with realism, and the idealism of Plato and Aristotle. Its root metaphor is similarity.
  • Mechanism is associated with naturalism or materialism, with philosophers such as Rene Descartes, John Locke, and David Hume.
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