Free course

Understanding the environment: A systems approach

Free statement of participation on completion
Understanding the environment: A systems approach Copyrighted Icon

There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. Understanding the environment: A systems approach, is a free course whose primary aim is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview. It promotes the shift in perception towards socio-economic systems as dependent upon the finite resources and finite wastes sinks of planet Earth.

This is the introductory session in the 'Understanding the environment' series.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • implement an action learning framework for exploring complex situations
  • recognise that the way we engage with the world is through partial models of reality, and that these models are limited by different cognitive styles and ‘thinking traps’
  • understand the need to collaboratively incorporate a blend of cognitive styles and multiple intelligences as the basis for effective systems practice and thinking
  • appreciate how different modes of communication (verbal, visual and mathematical) affect the way we represent our mental models
  • develop verbal, visual and mathematical models that explore both social and natural impacts, and reflect on the use of such models to inform thoughts and actions.

First Published: 10/08/2012

Updated: 23/01/2020

Skip Rate and Review

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371