A Systems Approach for Engaging Groups in Global Complexity: Capacity Building Through an Online Course

Tom Flanagan, Janet McIntyre-Mills, Tony Made, Kelly Mackenzie, Charles Morse, Gayle Underwood, Ken Bausch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Sustainability is not simply about changing practices but more centrally about agreeing to change practices together. To achieve such an end, groups need to improve processes for making complex decisions together. An online course was designed and tested linking students in the United States and in Australia. Students engaged in a reenactment of deliberations based on Hasan Ozbekhan's "Predicament of Mankind," which was constructed originally under assignment from the founders of the Club of Rome in 1970. This re-enactment included contemporary research for examples of a set of 49 continuous critical problems of mankind, asynchronous clarification of these problems using a wiki, pair-wise construction of a systems view of problems assessed to be of highest priority by the class, narrative analysis of the structure, and creative suggestions for resolving the systems problem based on resources available today. This report comments on the strengths and challenges identified in an initial application of an approach for building collaborative and systems thinking skills through an online course in a general education curriculum. Findings are particularly meaningful for contemporary policy makers as well as online educators.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-193
    Number of pages23
    JournalSystemic Practice and Action Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


    • Group decision making
    • Online course
    • Problematique
    • Structured dialogic design (SDD)
    • Sustainability
    • Systems approach


    Dive into the research topics of 'A Systems Approach for Engaging Groups in Global Complexity: Capacity Building Through an Online Course'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this