2011-12 Catalog

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Offering Description

From Fragmentation to Wholeness: Developing a Systems Perspective

Winter 2012 and Spring 2012 quarters

Kathy Kelly systems theory variety of disciplines
Fields of Study
business and management, community studies, ecology, economics, psychology and sustainability studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Management, public policy, leadership, sustainability, organizational development.

What is a system and how is it different from a pile of parts?  What is a whole system?  In what ways does understanding whole systems contribute to wisdom and well-being?  This two-quarter program will introduce students to general systems theory.  Students will learn basic characteristics of systems and explore systems across an array of disciplines—ecological, organizational, economic, and cosmological. Students will be introduced to tools and develop practices to help gain an understanding of complex systems and system dynamics.

In winter quarter, students will work with cases from their professional or personal experience to observe and identify system dynamics and then imagine and anticipate possible interventions and consequent systemic effects.  In the spring quarter, our study will extend to understanding ourselves in relation to the systems in which we are living as we explore the nearby Nisqually River watershed to see how ecological, economic, and civic systems are interconnected.

Students will be introduced to ecological economics, an analytic tool that advances a systems perspective in service of environmental conservation and development in public policy making.  Over both quarters, we will observe our class as a living system—a learning laboratory connecting theory to practice—as we develop ourselves as individuals, leaders, and participants in a learning community.  Through reading, participatory exercises, reflection, writing, stories, and expressive arts, students will cultivate a systems perspective as a way of understanding complex systems.  Students will be better able to design holistically and intervene wisely for greater well-being for themselves, their organizations, and communities.

Learning Objectives:

  • to introduce students to basic systems theory and explore dynamics in a variety of systems
  • to increase understanding of human dynamics in living systems
  • to practice using systems thinking tools to develop a systems perspective
  • to assist students in working more effectively in, and as change agents of, systems
  • to develop critical thinking skills

Class will meet five weekends per quarter, with online work between meetings.

Advertised Schedule
9:30a-5p Sat/Sun (winter: Jan. 14-15, 28-29, Feb. 11-12, 25-26, Mar. 10-11; spring: Apr. 7-8, 21-22, May 5-6, 19-20, Jun. 2-3)
Online Learning
Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online
Greener Store
Required Fees
$18 in spring quarter for entrance fees to parks and museums
Offered During