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Wrapping up Week 2

In this step, we sum up what we learnt in Week 2, and what awaits us in Week 3.
a group share ideas and talk after a work-session.
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Congratulations on concluding Week 2!

What a week this was. In Week 2, we posed the first building block in your systemic understanding of sustainability. We did so starting off with the SiD definition of sustainability.

  • According to the SiD Definition, sustainability isa state of a complex, dynamic system’. In just one sentence, this captures a language that taps into systems thinking and complexity theory to talk about sustainability issues. The definition moves us away from an understanding of sustainability as a physical property of objects. Rather, it helps us envisioning it as a state that a set of elements moving in constant interplay (a system) can or cannot assume, depending on its composition.
  • The second sentence in the definition brings us one step forward, and gives us some parameters to pay attention to when assessing the sustainability of a system. These are Resilience, Autonomy, and Harmony. After diving into each of these three more in detail, we have learnt they interact with one another in (positive or negative) reinforcing loops. We learnt that cracking the code on how to best balance Resilience, Autonomy, and Harmony is key to achieve sustainable systems.

Image showing a schematization of the intersection between Resilience, Autonomy, and Harmony

  • In the quiz, you tested your familiarity with systems and complexity thinking, pinpointing concepts topics such as emergent behaviors and system-oriented solutioning approaches.
  • In the last exercise, you experimenting with ‘turning the question around’, from object- to system-oriented. While it might seem trivial, this re-framing exercise has fundamental implications. For example, it proved useful, time and time again, to improve practitioners’ skill in formulating system-oriented project goals.

After setting our ideas in order on what it is that we are talking about, next week we continue our journey. After all, once we acknowledge that thinking ‘in systems’ is important, we need to wrap our heads around how to structure our thoughts. To do so, we need to acquire some skill in ‘seeing’ systems in their components.

And this is what awaits us in Week 3, when we will have a look at the anatomy of systems – read: the different layers we can slice systems in to better understand them.

Before then, don’t forget to let us know what you thought of this week. Did you enjoy what you learnt? What can we improve?

© Except Academy
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An Introduction to Systems Thinking for Sustainability: SiD Theory I

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