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A Systems Thinking Reference List

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The Systems View of Life Is A Unifying Vision

Author Jeremy Lent suggests that we must understand Nature as a networked system: 

“The systems perspective offers important insights into the nature of reality that upend many assumptions forming the basis of the predominant worldview. It tells us that the relationship between things is frequently more important than the things themselves. It emphasizes that everything in the natural world is dynamic rather than static, and that biological phenomena can’t be predicted with precision: instead of fixed laws, we therefore need to search for the underlying organizing principles of nature.”

Systems thinking  means that understanding life requires a shift of focus from objects to relationships. Each species in an ecosystem helps to sustain the entire food web. If one species is decimated by some natural catastrophe, the ecosystem may still be resilient enough to survive if there are other species that can fulfill similar functions. But in other cases, the decimation of one species may have destroy a working ecosystem.
All of this invites the ethical side of systems thinking.
This essay is a list of references about systems thinking that I have found useful in my teaching and my research.

Systems Literacy

Peter Senge: “Systems Thinking for a Better World” – Aalto Systems Forum 2014

Systems Thinking with Dr David Orr, Oberlin College
David Orr – 2011 Systems Symposium
David Orr – Seminar at Schumaker College
PBS Systems literacy
Systems Literacy Network Web Site
The Systems Thinker – A huge systems thinking web site reference list 

Systems Education

David Orr – Ecoliteracy and Ecological Education
Systems Thinking in Biology Education
How To Practice Systems Thinking In The Classroom
Linda Booth Sweeney —  Learning to Connect the Dots: Developing Children’s Systems Literacy
Linda Booth Sweeney’s systems resource room

Interbeing and Interdependence

Creating An Interdependence Map
Interbeing – No Man Is An Island


A wonderful collection of talks (videos) by Kathleen Dean Moore.There is great wisdom in her world views. Her wisdom suggests solutions to humanity’s growing crisis on Earth.
If your time is limited, I recommend this one by Kathleen Dean Moore: on climate change, moral integrity, needed four virtues, moral integrity, wholeness and hope.

Climate Change




It has been said that climate change is no longer a technical problem because we already know how to overcome the effects of climate change. Climate change is a moral problem where much of humanity is not motivated to action despite the strong potential for a disaster for humanity. Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore, is a philosopher, writer, and environmental activist from Oregon State University. Her early creative nonfiction writing focused on the cultural and spiritual values of the natural world. Her more recent work is about the moral issues of climate change. 


Here are two videos where Kathleen Moore discusses how and why climate change is a moral issue.




In this passionate call to action, 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why, in August 2018, she walked out of school and organized a strike to raise awareness of global warming, protesting outside the Swedish parliament and grabbing the world’s attention. “The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg says. “All we have to do is to wake up and change.”






Using Systems Thinking To Understand Climate Change

For Your Further Consideration


This essay is part of a series of essays that present ideas to environmental educators and all stewards of Nature about ecoliteracy and legacy.   The emphasis is on two key ideas:
  1. Our earth is a living system that transports and transforms energy. The key to an active ecoliteracy that results in a healthy environment for all life on earth is the building of a systems view of life into the minds and hearts of humanity, This worldview includes the fact that all of Nature is interconnected and interdependent.
  2. Environmental education is not simply offering facts. Environmental education must be hands-on and place-based if ideas, facts, and effective conservation strategies are to become a consciousness in the minds and hearts of our youth. Environmental education must include the the passing of this consciousness to future generations.


Why Do I Write These Essays?


Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself,  or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.
If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.


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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

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