ESD LT- An introduction to systems thinking

The participants began their 2nd weeks training in Leadership for ESD this morning and did so with 90 minutes of German language lessons. Afterwards they were introduced to the schedule for the week ahead which is mainly on the topic of systems thinking. But before this, time was set aside for reflection from the previous week including a group activity to remind the participants of what had been achieved. This was then followed by a short summary which will be uploaded on the Global Campus.

Systems model made out of Clothes hangers

The group also welcomed Fabien Busch to the training session. Fabien is a political scientist and environmentalist working for Denkmodell (one third of the consortium who developed the ESD LT curriculum) and will be provide the group with his knowledge of systems thinking for the next week. His first approach as tutor was to find out how familiar the participants were with systems thinking and this resulted in the majority of the group classing themselves between 0-3 on a scale of 1-10. Therefore it will be interesting to see how much this will change throughout the week.

The group were next given three questions with which to answer regarding systems thinking based on what they thought was meant by the concept, what it means to the individual and what they expect to learn from the training this week. They were then introduced to the objectives set by the tutors for the week but this was also related this back to the expectations of the participants which will therefore help include this into the weeks structure.

After lunch Fabien had set up the room for a participatory exercise for the entire group to get involved in. The exercise required them to set up a model of a system using coat hangers, where they were placed carefully onto each other and balanced until every hanger was used. It was based on work by an artist named Man Ray who created “obstruction” in 1920 and it shows not only how systems work but how differing factors within a system can have relationships between each other.

The final aspect discussed today was that of planning methods using the systems thinking. With this in mind a presentation was given based on SINFONIE which allowed the learners to view a background to this process of analyzing the various factors which influence a system and finding which factor was the most important in this respect.

On reflection of the days work the group felt excited and optimistic regarding where things lie and they seem to be very happy with the systems approach and motivated to continue with this topic for the remainder of the week. The remainder of the afternoon was used as preparation for Tuesdays field trip to the German Council for sustainable development.

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