During the 3rd period I participated in the course Systems Thinking for Sustainable Living Environment, which is mandatory for students of Creative Sustainability and Spatial and Transportation Engineering Master’s programmes. We had 6 intense lectures in the Harald Herlin Learning centre in Otaniemi with teachers Katri Pulkkinen and Aija Sta ans. The aim of the course is to make us students think in systems and understand di erent system concepts related to sustainable development.
During the course we had both traditional lectures listening to our teachers and guest lecturers telling about systems thinking but also a lot of discussions and group work. Through every week we did learning diaries to repeat the topics and concepts discussed. The learning diary was actually very helpful to sum- up and re ect on the discussions, lectures and the group work done that week.
What we discussed in the lectures were relevant topics related to sustainability, such as the nine planetary boundaries and the anthropocene. The nine planetary boundaries present a model where 9 issues are highlighted as critical challenges we should focus on if we want to maintain human (and animal) living conditions on the planet. Among these issues, climate change is only one. The anthropocene is a suggested name for the current geological era we are living in, marking the signi cance of human behaviour changing the natural systems of the planet drastically.
How can systems thinking be used in discussions like the ones above? Systems thinking is a holistic approach where the connections of di erent elements in a system is understood and the system is looked at in relation to other systems around it. Systems can be anything from the immune system to ecosystems or transportation systems humans have created. Systems also behave in di erent ways, many di erent theories are created to explain the common patterns of systems.
As for the group work we had one book presenting systems theories each and our task was to teach the learnings from the book to the rest of the class. This was a very e cient way to brie y go through 9 books in a short amount of time. My group had a book by Albert László Barabási called Linked: The New Science of Networks.
The most important lessons learned from the course was that we need to understand to look at sustainability issues from a broader perspective, understanding for example that climate change is related to human behaviour and the di erent planetary issues are all connected to each other, so dealing with one also has an impact on all the others.
SPT-E1050 Systems Thinking for Sustainable Living Environment https://mycourses.aalto. /course/view.php?id=18188
The Anthropocene https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropocene
Linked: The New Science of Networks http://barabasi.com/book/linked#linked