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Last updated:

April 9, 2022


Unlimited Duration


This course includes:

Unlimited Duration

Badge on Completion

Certificate of completion

Unlimited Duration


There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face.

Understanding the environment: A systems approach, is a free course whose primary aim is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview. It promotes the shift in perception towards socio-economic systems as dependent upon the finite resources and finite wastes sinks of planet Earth.

This is the introductory session in the 'Understanding the environment' series.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • Implement an action learning framework for exploring complex situations
  • Recognise that the way we engage with the world is through partial models of reality, and that these models are limited by different cognitive styles and ‘thinking traps’
  • Understand the need to collaboratively incorporate a blend of cognitive styles and multiple intelligences as the basis for effective systems practice and thinking
  • Appreciate how different modes of communication (verbal, visual and mathematical) affect the way we represent our mental models
  • Develop verbal, visual and mathematical models that explore both social and natural impacts, and reflect on the use of such models to inform thoughts and actions.

Course Curriculum

  • Introduction to the ‘systems’ theme 00:10:00
  • Learning outcomes 00:10:00
    • This course’s fundamental concepts: feedback, models and learning 00:03:00
    • Feedback 00:05:00
    • Intuition and visual modelling 00:10:00
    • Analysis and mathematical modelling 00:07:00
    • Action learning 00:10:00
    • Planning 00:10:00
    • Acting 00:07:00
    • Observing 00:10:00
    • Evaluating 00:10:00
    • ‘Many hands make light work’ 00:15:00
    • Study time 00:15:00
    • Course study components 00:10:00
    • Activities 00:15:00
    • Readings 00:07:00
    • Diagramming Resource 00:05:00
    • Conclusion 00:05:00

About the instructor

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