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Policy and Practice Support

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The encyclopedia is a searchable online database of concepts that support the advancement of cybernetic and systems research and applications. There are more than 3,800 entries. Topics include abstraction, complexity, decision hierarchy, emergence, feedback, gap analysis, hierarchy, interdependence, non-linear dynamics, path dependence, root definition, stakeholder analysis, and worldview. Each concept is briefly explained and linked […]
Systems archetypes are recurring generic systems structures found in many kinds of organisations, under many circumstances, and at many levels and scales. They are distinctive combinations of reinforcing and balancing processes. These system archetypes teach how to diagnose recurring problems and to design effective interventions. Eight common archetypes are: fixes that fail shifting the burden […]
These two videos describe the difference between analysis (study of the parts) and synthesis (understanding of the whole). Analysis provides knowledge; synthesis provides understanding. Describes that all systems are parts of larger systems. Also describes that an essential property of a system is that it cannot be divided into independent parts; that its properties derive […]
This video introduces systems thinking for people with little prior knowledge of the field through four key systems thinking skills: Exploring boundaries – understanding the inclusion, exclusion and marginalisation of stakeholders and the issues that concern them. Appreciating multiple perspectives – how and why stakeholders frame issues in different ways. Understanding relationships – networks of […]
This introduction to systems thinking starts with the old adage “teach a man to fish and you feed him forever” and demonstrates why this may fail. It shows how the simple act of fishing is embedded in a complex web of stakeholders and issues, including climate change, pollution, overfishing, lack of access to income, irrigation […]
The following three YouTube videos (each less than 5 minutes long) provide an introduction to systems thinking.   (1) (five minutes): “A systems story” presented by BEE Environmental Communication was delivered in July 2014 – it uses love to explain core systems principles. Online: http://youtu.be/rDxOyJxgJeA   Video of A Systems Story   (2) (three and […]
Transboundary competence involves the ability to deal with diversity and to cross the boundaries that divide perspectives. Seven key boundaries and useful approaches to cross them are shown in the following table:   Need to cross boundaries between… Useful approach 1. systems systems analysis 2. disciplines interdisciplinarity 3. science and society transdisciplinary; participatory 4. nations […]
This video describes how transdisciplinary research contributes to sustainability through a case study of five projects in Gothenburg, Sweden. It assesses a common assumption that transdisciplinary research is more able to contribute to societal problem solving than traditional forms of research. This assumption is based on the analytical belief that collaboration between and among social […]
Transdisciplinary research (of the European sustainability style) is described in this video as research that combines knowledge from different disciplines and engages with societal actors: to grasp the complexity of a societal problem; to take into account the diversity of perceptions that stakeholders and disciplines may have of a problem; to link generalised abstract and […]
“Health social science synthesizes a wide range of knowledge in order to understand and solve complex health problems. This volume presents ten case studies that illustrate some of the best practice in health social science in developing countries. Each study addresses the critical question of how social and behavioral science approaches can make a difference […]

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