•WHAT IS SYSTEMS THINKING • Systems thinking is the art of seeing the world in terms of wholes rather than fragmented

parts, and the practice of focusing on the relationships among the parts of the system. Instead of isolating ‘parts’ we look at larger and larger numbers of interactions. It is important because when we look at the world this way we have a more accurate picture of reality and tend to think about long term, sustainable solutions rather than quick fixes. A System is a group of interacting, interrelated and interdependent components that form a complex and unified whole •CRITERIA OF SYSTEMS THINKING 1.Shift from focusing on the parts to seeing the whole Living systems are integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller parts. 1.Capacity to shift one’s attention back and forth between systems levels Throughout the living world we find systems nesting in other systems, and by applying the same concepts to different system levels we can gain important insights. 1.Contextual Thinking The ability to explain things in terms of their specific context or environment. 1.Shift from focus on objects to focus on relationships Objects are networks of relationships, embedded in larger networks. Relationships are primary. 1.Network Thinking As we perceive reality as a network of relationships, our descriptions too, form an interconnected network of concepts and models. Knowledge is a network. There are no longer any ‘fundamental’ laws. Knowledge is dependent on what ideas are networked together. 1.Process Thinking Every structure is seen as a manifestation of underlying processes. Process thinking is the ability to see cause and effect over time. •CRITERIA OF LIVING SYSTEMS 1.We are all interdependent. Nature is an interconnected web of relationships. Everything is connected throughout space. 2.Everything flows. Everything is connected over time. 3.The system must be open to new energy and matter in order to be sustainable. 4.The only viable solutions are those that are ‘sustainable’. A sustainable society is one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations. (From: ‘The Web of Life’ – Fritjof Capra, Flamingo Press, 1997)

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