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This free course, Nature matters: Systems thinking and experts, explores conceptual tools for assisting our thinking and deliberation on what matters. The notion of 'framing' nature is introduced and three readings provide an understanding of systems thinking for explicitly framing issues of environmental responsibility.
By the end of this free course you should be able to:
- understand why systems thinking might be useful and know something about how it can be applied in the context of environmental responsibility;
- describe the significance of environmental pragmatism and cognitive justice as tools for supporting environmental policy and action.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Framing nature matters: from language to systems thinking
- 1.1 Framing nature using language tools
- 1.2 A framing paradox: experiencing nature with cognitive tools
- 1.3 Framing nature matters as systems
- 1.4 Nature matters in terms of a critical systems literacy
- 2 Supporting environmental conversation: policy and action
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
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Nature matters: systems thinking and experts
This unit explores conceptual tools for assisting our thinking and deliberation on what matters. In Section 1, a reading by Ronald Moore introduces the notion of 'framing' nature, raising the perceived paradox of inevitably devaluing an aesthetically pleasing unframed entity. Three further readings, two from Fritjof Capra and one from Werner Ulrick (all of which are quite short and markedly reduced from their original courses), provide an understanding of systems thinking for explicitly framing issues of environmental responsibility. The development of systems literacy (referred to by Capra in terms of ecoliteracy and by Ulrich in terms of critical systems thinking) is explored to counter the sometimes debilitating dualistic positioning on environmental matters alluded to by writers such as Talbott, Light and Higgs amongst many others.
Section 2 focuses more on how conceptual tools can help to inform better policy and action regarding environmental matters. Here, a reading by Robyn Eckersley critically explores the importance and limitations of environmental pragmatism for informing policy. Finally, ideas of cognitive justice are explored in a reading by Shiv Visvanathan, who suggests a need for continually developing constructive space between scientific experts and lay experts in order to inform policy and action on what matters that reflects a wider constituency, and that is more specific to eco-cultural circumstances.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 26th July 2011
Last updated on: Wednesday, 27th July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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