Agricultural Systems Thinking Toolbox

domino-effect

Some proposed “learning” or axioms discussed in class:

  • The map is not the territory – A. Zorbyzki
  • Yes, but a map can help us navigate the territory – J. Gerber
  • Humans are inside the system, not outside manipulating it
  • Ask for help
  • Change the rules when they are not working
  • Don’t be sorry for being yourself – but be yourself
  • Passing is okay
  • We become what we practice
  • Believing is seeing
  • Cultural assumptions influence how we see the world
  • Brand new white sneakers won’t make you happy
  • what else?

Here are some of the tools and resources we are using in STOCKSCH 379 – Agricultural Systems Thinking class:

  1. The Mindmap
  2. The Iceberg
  3. The Five Disciplines
  4. Mental Models
  5. Three Dimensions of the Great Turning
  6. The Five Whys
  7. Moments of Awareness
  8. Re-framing
  9. Finding the Root Cause(s) of BIG Problems
  10. Causal Loops (Fixes that Fail)
  11. Personal Mastery
  12. Shared Vision
  13. The Law of Unintended Consequences
  14. Dancing with Systems
  15. more to come…..

Some More Readings Used in Class

Reading Related to Food System Change

For more writing and thinking about systems thinking, see my blog posts here.   And for more, check out the writings of my friend and farmer, Karl North.

Group Norms for Ag. Systems Thinking – Fall ’14
  • Start with a breath at the “right” time
  • Respect each other: our backgrounds, learning styles, as people!
  • Embrace silence during discussions
  • Be there for each other
  • Yes, AND….
  • Move up and move back
  • Use active listening
  • Practice personal accountability and follow-through
  • It’s okay to bring food for everyone if we are conscious of allergies and clean up afterwards
  • We’ll take a stretch break
  • Respect end time for class
  • Lean into discomfort
  • Offer forgiveness to each other

Principle Resources Used to Develop the Course

  1. Krafel, P. 1999. Seeing Nature: Deliberate Encounters with the Visible World. Chelsea Green Publishing Company, Vermont.
  2. Capra, F. 1996. The Web of Life. Anchor Press.
  3. Holmgren, D. 2009. Future Scenarios. Chelsea Green Press.
  4. Meadows, D.H. 2008. Thinking in Systems. Chelsea Green Press
  5. Senge, P. et al. 1994. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. Doubleday Publishing Group.
  6. Wilson, K. and G.E.B Morren Jr. 1990. Systems Approaches for Improvement in Agricultural and Resource Management. MacMillan Pub. Co.

Additional Resources Used to Develop the Course:

  1. Alexander, C., Ishikawa, S., and M. Silverstein. 1977. A Pattern Language. Oxford University Press.
  2. Anderson, V. and L. Johnson. 1997. Systems Thinking Basics: From Concepts to Causal Loops. Pegasus Communications.
  3. Bateson, G. 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chandler Publishing.
  4. Bohm, D. and D. Peat. 1987. Science, Order, and Creativity. Bantam Books
  5. Capra, F. 1996. The Web of Life. Anchor Press.
  6. Carroll, C.R., Vandermeer, J.H., and P. M. Rossett. 1990. Agroecology. McGraw-Hill Press.
  7. Edwards, C.A., Lal, R., Madden, P., Miller, R.H., and G. House. 1990. Sustainable Agriculture Systems. Soil and Water Conservation Society Press.
  8. Few, A.A. 1996. System Behavior and System Modeling. University Science Books.Holmgren, D. 2009. Future Scenarios. Chelsea Green Press.
  9. Lazlo, E. 2001. The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time. Hampton Press.
  10. Margulis, L. and D. Sagan. 1995. What is Life? University of California Press.
  11. Meadows, D.H. 2008. Thinking in Systems. Chelsea Green Press
  12. Senge, P. et al. 1994. The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. Doubleday Publishing Group.
  13. Varela, F. J. 1999. Ethical Know-How: Action, Wisdom and Cognition. Stanford University Press.
  14. Von Bertalanffy, L. 1968. General Systems Theory. Braziller Press
  15. Wilson, K. and G.E.B Morren Jr. 1990. Systems Approaches for Improvement in Agricultural and Resource Management. MacMillan Pub. Co.
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