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Systems thinking: Understanding sustainability

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This free course, Systems thinking: Understanding sustainability, introduces ways in which systems thinking can help support processes of decision making among stakeholders with different, often contrasting, perspectives on sustainable development in order to generate purposeful action to improve situations of change and uncertainty. You will be encouraged to engage with the concept of sustainable development, and discover and contextualise your own sustainable development beliefs and values.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • engage with the domain of sustainable development
  • contextualise any experience in the domain of sustainable development
  • critically read, interpret and analyse some accounts of environmental, development and sustainable development issues and situations
  • identify systems of interest in some sustainable development situations
  • identify types of hierarchy that are meaningful in the domain of sustainable development.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 15 hours
  • Updated Tuesday 29th March 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Systems (Computer)
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Systems thinking: Understanding sustainability

Introduction

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In our increasingly complex world of change and uncertainty, particularly in the context of climate change, the notion of sustainability is often raised as the key issue for decision making in the 21st century. But sustainability is itself a contentious term and often used in misguided ways depending on the context of use. This course 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.

The perspectives of the authors of this course

As recognition of multiple perspectives is an important skill to develop in relation to systems thinking you should note that this course 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 Computing & IT [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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