• Except Integrated Sustainability logo

Systems Thinking for Sustainability: Drawing Complexity on a Paper

Learn how systems mapping can help us understand the interacting, interrelated, and interdependent components within a system.

Landscape of a city with white lines above, representing the conections of systems around
  • Duration

    3 weeks
  • Weekly study

    4 hours
  • 100% online

    How it works
  • Included in an ExpertTrack

    Course 3 of 3
  • Get full ExpertTrack access

    $39/monthFind out more

Discover how systems mapping powers systems thinking

Systems are groups of interacting, interrelated, and interdependent components that form a complex and unified whole.

Systems mapping allows you to manage the vast amounts of information that confront you when analysing systems, and it’s a key approach to understanding them and being able to improve them.

Building a strong understanding of systems mapping will enable you to chart the elements and relationships that compose any system you’re dealing with, and offer an unconventional insight into how it looks in space, how it behaves in time, and what it affects.

Creating a clear image of that system will allow you to make informed decisions on how to improve its state via sound solutions. The process will also offer an important tool for communication, helping you to collaborate and inform key stakeholders when building more sustainable systems.

Learn how systems mapping aids systems analysis and design

Systems mapping is also a key tool in systems analysis and design. You’ll learn what the different components of a system are, and their relationships with others. This will empower you to begin thinking about how to make them more sustainable. This powerful tool will allow you to organise the wealth of information involved in systems thinking by drawing up stakeholder maps.

Upon completion of this course, you’ll understand the fundamentals you need to start using systems maps to tackle real-life challenges and know how to create stakeholder maps for any project.

What topics will you cover?

  • How to break down systems in using System mapping
  • How to analyze strategic interventions across different scales of impact - i.e. direct impact, indirect impact, systemic impact.
  • Different approaches in complex systems thinking - reductionist, holistic, and symbiotic.
  • How to generate engagement of your stakeholder
  • Different strategies for visualizing large-scale transitions on Roadmap development that makes them tangible.

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

Download a PDF

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the main concepts underlying sustainability, and its relevance in our society today.
  • Explore basic principles of systems thinking and network theory applied to sustainability.
  • Interpret systemic behaviours in society, and how they relate to sustainability transitions.
  • Evaluate the way success is defined for sustainable projects
  • Perform quick impact scans across different dimensions of sustainability, enlarging your scope of impact.
  • Collaborate with sustainability experts and absorb new insight
  • Engage in your own project and develop system mapping skills

Who is the course for?

This sustainability management course is designed for anyone who would like to understand how systems mapping can help us to build more sustainable systems.

It would be suitable for purpose-driven professionals at public and private organisations.

Who will you learn with?

Tom is a renowned sustainability focused entrepreneur, architect, author, and advisor. He developed the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework, and leads his field with 20+ years of experience.

Ruben works at Except's Knowledge & Training pillar to develop and share the SiD methodology in a way that is understandable, comprehensive, up to date and valid.

A creative communicator and journalist, Zuza creates tangible narratives of social importance via writing that encompasses academia, journalism, and creative forms.

I am a sustainability consultant and I enjoy working on complex issues that require research, analysis, and creativity.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with passion, creativity, and enthusiasm, Mari is part of the EXCEPTional team.
This means: we are here to make people create a better future today, together.

Who developed the course?

Except Integrated Sustainability

We deliver concepts and strategies for resilient, just, and inspiring cities, companies, governance, and industry.

About this ExpertTrack

Discover tools for complex systems analysis and design that will guide your work towards a more sustainable future.

Start learning today - free 2-day trial

After your free trial you can:

  • Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
  • Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
  • Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
  • Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
  • Earn digital course certificates and a final award that you can share online, with potential employers, and your professional network
  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

Do you know someone who'd love this course? Tell them about it...

You can use the hashtag #ThinkSid to talk about this course on social media.