Systems for sustainability workshop


Published on

These are the slides which I used is a 3 day workshop which I gave to university students in Brazil. Any feedback, and additional material that I could use (text, pictures, cartoons or videos), very gratefully received.

1 Like
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Systems for sustainability workshop

  1. 1. Sustainability: asystems/complexity approach Dr. Andrea Berardi Lecturer in Environmental Information Systems Communication and Systems Department The Open University
  2. 2. Unibanco Tecnológico – comerical W/Brasil, 2000.
  3. 3. Ivan Illich (1973) ‚Tools for Conviviality‛‚Elite professional groups . . . have come to exert a radical monopoly on such basic human activities as health, agriculture, home-building, and learning, <. The result of much economic development is very often not human flourishing but modernized poverty, dependency, and an out-of-control system in which the humans become worn-down mechanical parts. ‚
  4. 4. Albert Einstein: “We cant solveproblems by usingthe same kind ofthinking we usedwhen we created
  5. 5. The dominant worldview: reductionism• Things can be understood by reducing them to their constituent components – by studying “the parts”, you will understand “the whole”.
  6. 6. Reductionist implications:• detaching emotion from rationality;• detaching humanity from nature;• citizens unable to see the ‚bigger picture‛;• citizens unable to see the ‚greater purpose‛;• ‚learned helplessness‛.
  7. 7. “India: Pollution Fine Sought Against Coca-Cola”
  8. 8. What is a ‚System‛?A system emerges from< ‚interdependent components which regularly interact and form a unified whole‛. Um sistema consiste em< ‚componentes interdependentes que interagem regularmente e formam um todo unificado‛.
  9. 9. Systems have ‘emergent properties’• ‚the whole is greater than the sum of its parts‛.
  10. 10. System structure, processes and purpose
  11. 11. What connects/flows across system components?• Energy;• Matter;• Information.
  12. 12. What is the difference between energy, matter and information?• Energy and matter are ‚causal inputs‛ to systems – they directly affect system processes.• Information is instead a ‚sensory input‛ and is used to predict the occurrence of causal inputs or other sensory inputs (sometimes at a later time or another place).
  13. 13. System structure: ‘individualistic’ architecture
  14. 14. System structure: ‚egalitarian‛ networks
  15. 15. System structure: ‚hierarchical networks‛
  16. 16. Think of a simple system, and<. •< its structure; •<.. describe its processes; •<.. identify its purpose/emergent properties.
  17. 17. Nested systems
  18. 18. Simple systems "Reductionism produced a "machine view" of the world, a view captured in the work of Sir Isaac Newton. Metaphorically the world was likened to a sealed clock, a closed system, perpetually running on fundamental laws like "to• Predictable; everything action there is an equal and opposite reaction."• Mechanical; Hutchins, Systemic Thinking, 1995
  19. 19. The impossible hamster
  20. 20. Complicated Systems
  21. 21. Reinforcing feedback
  22. 22. Tipping points
  23. 23. Balancing feedback
  24. 24. Gaia Theory –James Lovelock
  25. 25. Feedback and Control
  26. 26. Plan Act Action Learning CycleEvaluate Observe
  27. 27. Delays
  28. 28. Complex Systems
  29. 29. Chaotic, irregular, unpredictable behaviourButterfly effect: a small perturbation canresult in significant impacts.
  30. 30. ‘Problems’ are Systems• ‘Tame’ and ‘Wicked’ problems (Rittel & Webber, 1973);• ‘Difficulties’ and ‘Messes’ (Ackoff, 1974).• ‘Simple’, ‘Complicated’ and ‘Complex’ problems (Glouberman & Zimmerman, 2002)
  31. 31. Tackling ‘wicked problems’Roberts (2000 )identifies the following strategies to cope with wicked problems:• Authoritative;• Competitive;• Collaborative.
  32. 32. ‚The Power of Networks‛ - Manuel Lima
  33. 33. Who should lead on transforming society towards sustainability? Enterprise Governments by developing green by establishing strong technologies and regulation. mobilising consumers No one! Communities Enterprise is only out to by creating local self- make money, governments sustaining lifestyles. are corrupt, andcommunities no longer exist.
  34. 34. Michael Thompson – Cultural Theory Individualism Hierarchy Fatalism Egalitarianism
  35. 35. Robert Costanza – Future Scenarios Star Trek Big Government Mad Max Ecotopia
  36. 36. System Cycles
  37. 37. Creative Destruction -- Joseph Schumpeter
  38. 38. Adaptive cycle
  39. 39. Characteristics of systems during different phases of the adaptive cycle• Renewal phase: new organisational forms; innovation; creativity.• Growth phase: increasing organisational complexity; diversification.• Conservation phase: organisational complexity stable; optimisation; specialisation; efficiency; resistance.• Release phase: breakdown of organisational complexity; survival.
  40. 40. ‘Hard’ systems approach• Expert led, quantitative, rational.• Great for predicting the state of simple/complicated systems;• Positivist epistemology;
  41. 41. ‘Soft’ systems approach• Ideal for working through highly complex problems where there is uncertainty and conflict.• Better for understanding the less tangible elements of problem situations – things like human motivation and interaction.• Constructivist epistemology.• Qualitative.• Participatory.
  42. 42. March (1994) argues that we have: – problems of memory; – problems of attention; – problems of comprehension; – problems of communication;
  43. 43. Problems of memory
  44. 44. How many can you remember?
  45. 45. Problems of memory (experience)
  46. 46. Group 1 Experience
  47. 47. Group 2 Experience
  48. 48. What do you see?
  49. 49. Problems of attention
  50. 50. Problems of communication
  51. 51. Shanon-Weaver Enhanced Communication Model
  52. 52. Problems of comprehension
  53. 53. Iain McGilchrist –„The Divided Brain
  54. 54. Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  55. 55. Are you analytical or intuitive?If 1 = 5, 2 = 25, 3 = 325, 4 = 4325, 5 = ?
  56. 56. Soft systems approaches try toaccommodate human limitations and differences in perspective
  57. 57. ‘Complexity Thinking’ approach• Self organising: encouraging a system which will spontaneously emerge as the actions of autonomous participants come to be interlinked and co-dependend on each other.• Evolutionary: the system will be able to change its structure and processes as it adapts to maintain its viability within a changing, dynamic context. In other words, the system will be designed to learn from its experiences.
  58. 58. Complexity thinkers:Kevin Kelly (1995) Out Of Control – The New Biology of Machines:‚As we shape technology, it shapes us. We are connecting everything to everything, and so our entire culture is migrating to a "network culture" and a new network economics.‛
  59. 59. Complexity thinkers:Manuel Castell (2001) The Internet Galaxy - Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society:" the Internet is the technological basis for the organizational form of the Information Age: the network."
  60. 60. Will complex adaptive machines rule the world?
  61. 61. Systemic, Systematic and Evolutionary approaches Systematic Systemic EvolutionaryPhilosophy Mechanistic, Holistic, relational Natural selection, reductionist and and ecological survival of the fittest atomisticProcess Authority/Expert led Participatory, Self-organising facilitated, consensualReasoning Rational, linear, Intuitive, synthesising, Simple rules focused, analytic non-linearCommunication Measure, categorise Participatory, beyond Interaction limited to and reason with language, instrumental needs written and metaphorical, visual. mathematical symbolsProblem solving Remedial solutions Preventative design Creative and innovativeAttitude Objective, Subjective, pragmatic Instrumental, goal perfectionist oriented, risk-taking
  62. 62. Systems methodologies and techniques• ‘Hard’ Systems: – System Dynamics Modelling; – Qualitative System Dynamics (Systems Archetypes); – Viable Systems Model;• ‘Soft’ Systems: – Soft Systems Methodology; – Critical Systems Heuristics; – Systemic Action Research; – Systemic Grounded Theory and Action.• ‘Complex’ Systems: – Network Analysis; – Agent-Based Modelling
  63. 63. Common characteristics of systems methodologies and techniques• Start with an unstructured exploration;• Multi- and inter-disciplinary;• Blend expertise and participation;• Blend of written, numerical and visual information;• All require the construction of a systems model;• Interventions through identifying points of leverage within the system of interest;• Emphasis on social learning;• Iterative
  64. 64. T863 Environmental Decision- Making Framework
  65. 65. Explore the situation• Decide on which rung of the ‚ladder of participation‛ to involve stakeholders (Arnstein, 1969).
  66. 66. Explore the situation• Unstructured, intuitive, visual exploration often using diagramming techniques such as the ‘rich picture’ and/or ‘spray diagrams’;
  67. 67. Explore the situationFacilitator(s) and participants need to be explicit about their values, experiences and interests; – What is the nature of your stakeholding? – What role do you play in the situation? – Are you a beneficiary? Victim?
  68. 68. Formulate systems of interest• Establish system boundary, components, structure and processes.• Use diagramming techniques such as systems map; influence diagram; multiple cause diagram; and causal loop diagram.
  69. 69. Identify feasible and desirable changes• Creative problem solving entails an innovative ability to make connections between wholly unrelated perspectives or ideas.• Identify points of leverage within the system of interest and at various system scales.• Change system structures and processes.• Introduce new system(s).• Assess feasibility and negotiate desirable options.
  70. 70. Take action• The impact of interventions within complex systems are rarely predictable.
  71. 71. Iteration• Always collect data/opinions on the impact of actions, including perspective from stakeholders.• Always start with an unstructured exploration, even if you think you know the system.• Ideally, bring in new perspectives.• Tendency towards rationalisation – remember to keep a balance between right and left brain!
  72. 72. How would you implement systemic action learning within your classroom?• Problem-based learning.• Multi-, inter-, trans-disciplinary lessons.• Learning outside of the class in the ‚real world‛• Practice what you preach: non-hierarchical, egalitarian structures and processes.• Promote relational, visual forms of communication.• Complex systems never produce simple ‚right‛ answers.
  73. 73. Stafford Beer, 1974, Designing Freedom, pp 60-61• "Every pupil is a high-variety organism, and the process of education essentially constrains variety. In other words, the pupil is capable of generating many responses to the question: what is six multiplied by seven; the educator will seek to attenuate this potential variety to the single answer: forty-two. But if we take a different kind of example, we may find ourselves saying something significantly different. The pupil is capable of generating many responses to the question: how should a national health service be organised? This time, however, we may hope that the educator will not attenuate potential variety to the singular answer: like this. No, we say; education is a word coming from the Latin: e-ducere, "to lead out". It does not mean "to push in". And yet it remains true that in any case the process of education constrains variety. Anyone who thinks over this little paradox for a few minutes can see that, in the second example, the hope is that we can teach the pupil ways of attenuating his own variety. We want to offer him ways of finding answers, not of enforcing our own."
  74. 74. Activity• Identify a wicked problem in your community which you can work through with your class.• Explain why its a wicked problem• Propose a systemic framework for how you would tackle the problem• Provide a brief worked example illustrating how you would apply your framework to the problem.
  75. 75. “Leite materno contaminado poragrotóxicos em Lucas do Rio Verde”
  76. 76. Priority interventions?