Skip main navigation

Introduction

The ideas in Week 1 are reviewed and the forthcoming ideas in Week 2 are introduced.
Abstract design with flat colours and ambiguous reflection
Week 1 introduced the basic ideas of systems thinking including the use of systems diagrams for representation, analysis and modelling.

Week 2 begins by defining the Formal Systems Model. This provides a powerful way of eliciting information to build a picture of a system that includes establishing its purpose and structure; its decision-making and performance monitoring subsystems; its interaction with its environment; how resources are distributed; and how it maintains continuity and adapts to change.

This theoretical perspective will be illustrated by applications of systems thinking to real world problems, including the tragic shooting of Jean-Charles de Menezes by police in London in 2005.

An example of unintended consequences leads to the extension of systems thinking into the science of complex systems. In an unpredictable world, this science can give the best insights into how systems are likely to behave, something that is essential for policy and designing the future. We will present this in the context of Global Systems Science, which provides a prescription for solving practical real-world problems by coordinating systems thinking and complexity science, policy informatics and data, citizens and stakeholders, and policy makers [1].

But first, you will see the results of the experiment begun last week on objectivity and consensus when thinking about and analysing systems.

[1] FutureLearn: Global Systems Science and Policy

This article is from the free online

Systems Thinking and Complexity

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education