Can we integrate Systems Thinking for social transformation?
There are many diverse approaches to systems thinking and, among them, many systemic approaches to furthering healthy changes in society. Within this category we can include such diverse resources as (just for example):
A. Donella Meadows’ Twelve Leverage Points to Intervene in a System and other applications of System Dynamics
B. EcoTrust’s Pattern Language for a Conservation Economy and other socially oriented pattern languages
C. Ecological, evolutionary, chaos, and complexity sciences which track the dynamics of complex natural systems, many of which apply to social systems
D. Ken Wilber’s All Quadrants All Levels model to embrace the subjective and objective dimensions of both individual and collective dynamics at various levels of development
E. Peggy Holman’s Engaging Emergence and emergent “whole system” conversational process methods (Open Space, Dynamic Facilitation, World Cafe, Appreciative Inquiry, Future Search, etc.)
F. Scenario work, Theory U, and other whole-system approaches to engaging
G. The socially engaged Shamanism of such shamanic/Western integrators as John Perkins and the Pachamama Alliance H. Network theory, collective intelligence theory, and related theories that address the dynamics of whole-system functionality in modern technology-enhanced human systems
I. There are other systems-based approaches and models that belong in this list. What are they?
In addition, there are thousands of proposals, practices, and initiatives that function in or serve various aspects of these broader models of — or approaches to — systemic evolution, from Frances Moore Lappe’s forthcoming Liberation Ecology to the many facets of Green Economics and the Co-Intelligence Institute’s wise-democracy agenda to the on-the-ground power of David Gershon’s Social Change 2.0 — to say nothing of the efforts to gather and network these and thousands of other initiatives, such as Paul Hawkins WiserEarth… and the many ways of communicating systemic understandings, from the Story of Stuff video to David McConville’s dome presentations….
Systems thinking is clearly vital for our success in turning civilization around — or, in evolutionary activist terms, for transforming the DNA (the defining and reproducing patterns) of our social systems and cultures. From an evolutionary perspective, the diverse forms of systems thinking are a potential resource for greatly enhanced transformational capacity — if we can integrate them into synergies more powerful than each approach offers on its own. Can you imagine systems thinkers from diverse approaches coming together to gain better collective understanding of:
(1) the gifts each approach offers to our understanding and collective well-being;
(2) the limitations of each approach;
(3) the larger understandings that are available through combining them, and where each fits in such larger understandings, given their relative gifts and limitations;
(4) what becomes possible through those larger understandings; and
(5) how to support the possibilities discovered in (4) to further the vast systemic-cultural shift that we are called to make in this century?.
What would have to happen for that monumental contribution to be made and then used? How might it serve efforts to turn the rudder of civilization within the next few years (for example, FourYearsGo.org)?
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