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This free course, Systems practice: Managing sustainability, introduces ways in which systems thinking can help support processes of decision making amongst stakeholders with different, often contrasting, perspectives on sustainable development in order to generate purposeful action to improve situations of change and uncertainty. You will learn about systems practice for managing sustainable development, and find out how 'learning systems' are designed for purposeful action in the domain of sustainable development.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- distinguish between a range of possible modes of systems practice and identify examples of each
- recognise and identify how some modelling and particular systems dynamics approaches have been in used in the domain
- recognise some particular demands that engaging with the domain of sustainable development has for effective systems practice
- understand how the question of ‘Who learns what?’ provides an integrating theme through all modes of systems practice
- recognise and suggest ways to formulate systems of interest in multiple stakeholder settings.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Systems practice for ‘managing’ sustainable development
- 2 Designing ‘learning systems’ for purposeful action in the domain of sustainable development
- 2.1 Creative use of SS-method for ‘managing’ sustainable development in multiple stakeholder situations
- 2.2 Engaging with process design for emergent outcomes
- 2.3 Developments in practice with SS-method
- 2.4 Design of a learning system based on SSM
- 2.5 Developing your systems practice in the sustainable development and other domains
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Systems practice: Managing sustainability
Systems thinking: managing sustainability is about systems practice and managing complexity in the domain of sustainable development. It introduces many examples from practitioners and you will be using systems ideas, and methods, for engaging with and developing your understanding of managing complexity.
The unit begins by looking at the way some systems approaches in the domain of sustainable development have evolved, providing a chance for you to appreciate some of their strengths and weaknesses. Some different modes of systems practice are introduced, using the question of ‘who learns what?’ as an integrating theme.
The unit continues by focusing on how you may use some of the material from the block in designing purposeful systems practice that could apply to your project. An example of process design for systems practice involving multiple stakeholders is introduced. You will also be given the opportunity to consider ‘learning systems’ and to extend your understanding of SS-method and methodology.
The perspectives of the authors of this unit
As recognition of multiple perspectives is an important skill to develop in relation to systems thinking you should note that this unit has been written by three authors who are referred to in the text – Chris Blackmore, whose background in education and environmental and rural development projects led to her use of systems ideas for exploring interconnections between environment, development and learning; Jake Chapman whose background in energy research, including campaigning for energy conservation and renewables, helped him develop an appreciation of systemic nature of these issues and Ray Ison whose experience of scientific approaches to natural resource management that historically excluded people from considerations led to his interest in more systems-based approaches to managing which enable participation by stakeholders in defining their systems of interest.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Systems (Computer) courses or view the range of currently available OU Systems (Computer) courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Thursday, 5th May 2016
Last updated on: Thursday, 5th May 2016
- 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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