S ystems Thinking and

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S ystems Thinking and




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Presentations text content in S ystems Thinking and

Slide1

Systems Thinking and Food Security

Dr Alex ArnallReading IFSTAL Principal InvestigatorandDr Harley PopeReading IFSTAL Educational Coordinator#IFSTAL

Slide2

What are the food system challenges?

against a background of

natural resource depletion

and many stagnating rural economies andchanging climate andsocial and socio-cultural changes

To achieve food security for a

growing, wealthier, urbanising population while minimising further environmental degradation

Slide3

Human systems are:

Global in scope

Dispersed and interlinked

Complex

Reflect patterns of socioeconomic inequality

Slide4

‘Tame’ problems: complicated but solvable

Well-defined and stable problem statementDefinite stopping pointSolutions can be: Objectively evaluatedSolutions can be generalised to similar problemsTried and abandoned

Slide5

‘Tame’ problems: complicated but solvable

Well-defined and stable problem statementDefinite stopping pointSolutions can be: Objectively evaluatedSolutions can be generalised to similar problemsTried and abandoned

When n% of plants survive under a particular set of abnormally dry circumstances

Slide6

‘Wicked’ problems: complex and intractable

Solutions are poorly-defined and contested, thus commonly defying attempts at resolution Transcend disciplinary, organisational, institutional, and geo-political boundaries

Slide7

‘Super-wicked’ problems..?

Time is running outNo central authorityThose seeking to solve the problem might also be contributing to itPolicies discount the future irrationally

Slide8

Overfishing

Major food producing activity 90 million tonnes wild capture per yearIntegrated into global food systems Fish: livelihood, dietary and culture significance Up to 85% of world’s fisheries over-exploited / depleted or recovering

Slide9

Tackling overfishing

Three possible strategies: Authoritative: enforcement of laws Competitive: consumer awareness Collaborative: awareness in fishing industry

Slide10

1. Unexpected / unwanted outcomes

Lose sight of the bigger picture Particular solutions, when implemented, can cause problems elsewhere in the system

Slide11

2. Incomplete knowledge

Fishing – population

dynamics

Fishing stock recovery

Impacts on fishingcommunities

Cultural attitudes towards seafood

Adapted from:

Leach

, M.,

Scoones

, I., & Stirling, A. (2010).

Dynamic

sustainabilities

: technology, environment, social justice

.

Earthscan

.

Slide12

3. Power dimensions

Tackling complex problems is essentially a political process… …Something often denied or downplayed Reliance on bureaucratic, rationalist decision-making frameworksExclusion of groups from decision-making processes

Slide13

What is a System?

System‘a complex whole of related parts’Systems ThinkingThinking about thinkingThe consideration of something in its totality, its interaction with the wider environment, while also considering its constituent parts and their interactions Systems MethodsIncludes concepts, frameworks and methods that support our ability to think systemically in different contexts

Slide14

A Representation of a Food System

Slide15

System Properties

Systems can have levelsSystem parts can be ‘nested’ in each otherIndividual agents or system parts can aggregate to form patterns of behaviour such as self-organisation and new functions - emergence

Slide16

System Dynamics

System behaviours can form patterns:FixedPeriodicComplexChaotic (random)

Slide17

A Representation of a Food System

Slide18

Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS)

Systems with multiple elements adapting or reacting to the patterns these elements createInteresting properties of CASs:Time / Distance separation of outcomesPath DependenceResilienceTipping Points (self-organised criticality)

Slide19

Nine Meals From Anarchy

New Economics Foundation (NEF) reportAverage person in UK has three days of food available‘Just in time’ supply chain management:Minimises wasteMaximises profitBUT:Assumes tomorrow largely same as todayDependent on functional transport system, electricity & oil

Source:

Simms, A. (2008). Nine Meals from Anarchy: Oil Depletion, Climate Change and the Transition to Resilience.

Schumacher Lecture

.

Slide20

Analysing Systems

The literature on systems thinking is well established and

vast

A

simplified synthesis

exists

! DSRP

Slide21

Distinctions, Systems, Relationships & Perspectives (DSRP)

We can consider systems through four interrelated patterns of thinkingDSRP stands for:Distinctions SystemsRelationshipsPerspectives

Source:

Cabrera

, D. &

Colosi

, L. (2008). Distinctions, systems, relationships, and perspectives (DSRP): A theory of thinking and of things Evaluation and Program Planning, Volume 31, Issue 3, August 2008, Pages 311-317

Slide22

DSRP

4 Interrelated Patterns of Thinking...Consisting of 2 contrasting elements...Framing QuestionsMaking Distinctionsidentity  otherWhat is ___ ?What is not ___?Organising Systemsparts  wholeDoes ___ have parts?Can you think of ___ as a part?Recognising Relationshipscause  effect Is ___ related to ___? Can you think of ___ as a relationship?Taking Perspectivespoint  viewFrom the perspective of __________, [insert question]?Can you think about ____________ from a different perspective?

Adapted from

: Cabrera

, D. and

Colosi

, L. (2009)

Thinking at Every Desk: How Four Simple Thinking Skills Will Transform Your Teaching, Classroom, School, and District

. Ithaca, NY: The Research Institute for Thinking in Education

.

Slide23

Food Waste - Distinctions

DefinitionsWhat it is and what it isn’t (boundaries)

Slide24

Food Waste - Systems

Who is creating it? Where is it created?

Slide25

Food Waste - Relationships

How, why and when is waste being generated?Who bears the cost? Can it be distributed?

Slide26

Food Waste - Perspectives

To what extent is waste a problem?How do individuals, groups and organisations see it?Is food waste linked to other problems?

Slide27

Doing Systems Thinking

There is no definitive vision of the food system to discoverWhen looking at systems we have to deal with incomplete knowledge, power dynamics and different perspectivesWe use systems thinking to enhance our understanding through uncovering relationships and identifying opportunities to intervene and communicateSystems methodologies can help us apply our systems thinking

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