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Spring 2014 - MIIS
Jan 27, 2020
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MPAG 8574 - Wks: Systems Thinking
This workshop focuses on the importance of systemic thinking for social change, with an emphasis on methodological use and management implications of systems thinking and practice for social change organizations (SCOs). We will explore core systems thinking concepts—e.g. relationships, emergence, layers, coordination and communication, feedback, worldviews / system philosophies, complexity and chaos, etc.—to help answer the core question:

“How can systems thinking and practice (i.e. use of methodology) support organizations to effectively develop and apply capacities, processes and systems to contribute to emergent social change in complex development environments?”

The workshop, readings and exercises are designed to provide an introductory background on the history, schools of thought, and key principles of systems thinking; a practical understanding of the implications of systems theory on systems practice, and vice versa; and a particular in-depth look at two cross cutting systems thinking traditions: ‘Soft Systems’ thinking and methodology (SSM) and critical systems thinking (CST). This will include critically analyzing the boundaries that organizations draw for their capacity development and related systems, as well as critically and systemically analyzing issues of power and culture that affect SCO performance in the highly complex environments in which they operate. This also includes exploring the natural relationship between systems thinking and action research. Note: Although we will cover some of the theoretical background to systems thinking this class is designed primarily as a “hands on” workshop in which we use methodology to learn key systems concepts.


1.000 Credit hours
1.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MIIS Graduate
Schedule Types: Workshop

Intl Policy & Management Division
Public Administration Department


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