This free online course addresses the practical problems that arise in social systems in the context of management and public policy at local, regional and global levels. It is problem-oriented, providing you with both the theoretical understanding and practical tools, to find and implement solutions to organisational and social problems.
Use systems thinking to solve complex, real-world problems
The course will look at the nature of social, managerial and policy problems, considering a variety of real-world examples: community action; crime and policing; health and social welfare; transportation; smart cities; energy; Europe and Brexit; and mass education for Africa and Latin America.
You will discover how systems thinking approach can be used to understand and help to seek solutions to these problems, and explore the nature of complexity, why systems are complex and how complexity science can help.
Apply systems thinking methods and tools to your own area
The course will provide you with systems thinking methods and tools, to apply to your own problems and share with other learners in the discussions.
By the end of the two weeks, you will be able to:
- define a system and apply the definition to a variety of social systems;
- recognise the features of particular systems that make them complex;
- analyse a system that interests you, to identify problems and formulate it in systems terms;
- and apply advanced systems thinking to seek solutions to the messy management, business and policy problems you face.
Learn about the UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus
The course has been developed by the UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus, which federates international expertise on systems thinking and complex systems science.
Throughout, you will learn with Professors Joyce Fortune and Jeffrey Johnson – internationally recognised experts in systems thinking and complex systems science, who has taught and acted as consultants addressing practical issues in this area for many decades.
Systems Thinking and Complexity complements the UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus course on Global Systems Science and Policy.
What topics will you cover?
The key themes in the course are
- systems are defined to be assemblies of components, connected together in an organised way where the components are affected by being in the system and the behaviour of the systems is changed if they leave it.
- the organised assembly of components does something, and the assembly has been identified as being of particular interest.
- systems thinking is holistic, and the behaviour of the whole cannot be inferred by looking at the parts in isolation.
- piecewise improvement of the parts of a system does not necessarily lead to an improvement of the whole.
- drawing systems diagrams provides a methodology to create a representation of the system in its environment, including establishing the boundary between them.
- system diagrams enable the interactions between the parts of systems to be made explicit and understandable as the drivers of the system’s dynamics.
- systems diagrams show the existence of feedback loops, some of which are essential to control the system.
- some feedback loops can make systems inherently unpredictable, while others may cause the system to become unstable.
- the Formal Systems Model provides a robust framework for analysing systems and has been used in many studies for identifying systems failures.
- some systems are inherently complex and unpredictable and they require new computational methods from the Science of Complex Systems to investigate their behaviour in a policy context.
- systems thinking and complexity can be integrated into Global Systems Science which coordinates Complex Systems Science, Policy Informatics and Citizen Engagement to address the urgent local and global policy issues of the modern world.
This school offers programs in:
Last updated January 18, 2018