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Thursday
Oct092014

"A Systems Story" video inspired by Donella Meadows Fellowship

By Sarah Czunyi, Donella Meadows Fellow

Systems thinking, as a discipline, tends to be quite technical – and thereby off-putting to more general audiences. Yet it is one of those ways of thinking that could and should benefit humanity as a whole; systems thinking has a wonderful story and message to tell, and I believe it should be spread as far and wide as possible. ‘Stocks’, ‘flows’ and ‘feedback loops’ should not be jargon cut off from the world – but rather should be absorbed, understood, and used creatively by more and more people who are interested in making positive change.

For these reasons, I was determined to use the opportunity of a Donella Meadows Fellowship project to broaden the audience and appetite for systems thinking, beyond the regular systems dynamics crowd.

Months of research, absorbing the writings of great systems thinkers and communicators – namely Dana Meadows herself, and also Linda Booth Sweeney – and creative brainstorming and collaboration with the team at BEE Environmental Communication, resulted in a final video. We decided to call this video “A Systems Story,” which introduces systems thinking, through a unique story frame: love.

While the end result of this project shows that systems thinking can be made much more accessible, the process itself showed me that communicating such complex concepts are far from simple – but it is this challenge that makes it even more necessary. As I recently learnt during the Balaton Group meeting, Dana herself was not a born communicator; but she recognized its necessity, and carefully honed this skill.

Higher education has opened up a world of intellectual possibilities, but it has also ensured I was indoctrinated into the halls of technical jargon. Once you enter this state of jargonism, it’s difficult to get out –  and even more difficult to get your message out to those outside your discipline. For those of us who are given the privilege of education and exposure to scientific concepts and disciplines such as systems thinking, which can help to address the world’s most pressing problems, we must also accept the responsibility to find ways of communicating these to wider audiences.

The video was produced by BEE Environmental Communication with funding from the Donella Meadows Fellowship and support from the Balaton Group. VIEW THE VIDEO >>

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