This assessment is designed to apply the knowledge and skills developed by students in evaluating the role of systems thinking in global and local sustainability challenges. The topic for your paper is:
‘Systems thinking is critical in developing solutions to sustainability challenges.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement, and why? Draw on ONE of the following wicked problems to illustrate your answer:
Indigenous disadvantage in Australia
Purpose and aims:
This assessment is designed to apply the knowledge and skills developed by the students in evaluating the role of systems thinking in global and local sustainability challenges. The topic for your paper is:
‘Systems thinking is critical in developing solutions to sustainability challenges.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement, and why? Draw on one of the following wicked problems to illustrate your answer:
- Climate change
- Indigenous disadvantage in Australia
How to write a Research Essay
1. Finding, reading and selecting your sources
At a minimum, this essay will reference 5 sources identified by the student, in addition to the subject readings (10-15 references in total). Your references should primarily include academic journals and books. The University library has developed a useful resource on how to evaluate your sources, and can be found in the subject LMS page.
2. Writing the Introduction
In the introduction you will need to do the following things:
- Present relevant background to the topic and its significance
- Introduce your ‘wicked problem’
- Define terms or concepts when necessary
- Explain the aim/purpose of the essay
- Reveal your plan of organization for the essay
3. Writing the Body
- Build your essay around points you want to make (i.e., don’t let your sources organize your paper)
- Integrate your sources into your discussion
- Be critical, and where relevant present two sides of an argument
- Give examples where relevant
- Summarize, analyse, explain, and evaluate published work rather than merely reporting it
- Make sure you have answered the topic question – to what extent do you agree with the statement?
4. Writing the Conclusion
- If the argument or point of your paper is complex, you may need to summarize the argument for your reader.
- If prior to your conclusion you have not yet explained the significance of your findings or if you are proceeding inductively, use the end of your paper to add your points up, to explain their significance.
- Move from a detailed to a general level of consideration that returns the topic to the context provided by the introduction.
5. Revising the Final Draft
- Check overall organization: logical flow of introduction, coherence and depth of discussion in body, effectiveness of conclusion.
- Paragraph level concerns: topic sentences, sequence of ideas within paragraphs, use of details to support generalizations, summary sentences where necessary, use of transitions within and between paragraphs.
- Sentence level concerns: sentence structure, word choices, punctuation, spelling.
Source: Adapted from The writing centre at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Reference List and sources:
Students are required to reference at least 3 types of resources in the group written report:
- Minimum of 6 journal articles (students are required to use scholarly and peer-reviewed articles) and textbooks.
- Newspaper/Magazine articles
- Company/NGO Websites
A total of 15-20 references are expected for the essay.
Students are required to use the LTU referencing style and to list resources in alphabetical order using the LTU Harvard Referencing Style.
Systems Thinking is Critical in Developing Solutions to Sustainability Challenges
Sustainable development is critical for the achievement of a balanced social and economic development. The process focuses on the promotion of present socio-economic and political development while considering the future generations. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, sustainable development involves the consideration and achievement of the current society’s needs without compromising the future generations’ ability to meet their needs (IISD, 2016). Even when the society must focus on socio-economic development and the elimination of poverty, extreme hunger, and disease among other challenges by meeting the needs of the society, it is imperative to ensure sustainability is all processes. Currently, the international community works on a common goal of ensuring sustainability by promoting the millennium development goals. Central to the goals is the achievement and promotion of sustainability. This essay argues for the effectiveness of systems thinking in developing solutions to sustainability challenges. It identifies climate change as a critical sustainability challenge and uses it to show the importance of the systems thinking in resolving sustainability challenges.
The issue of climate change remains an imminent threat to the future of humanity. The international community acknowledges the need for the minimization of all factors that contribute to climate change. The release of pollutants to the environment is the most significant human contribution towards changing climatic trends. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control asserts, the impact of human activities on the environment is ten times greater than the influence of natural and solar factors (IPCC, 2016). The impactful activities continue to create and will cause the development of irreversible catastrophes. The increasing release of pollutants among them greenhouse gases among other pollutants has led to the development of climate changes (Marino, et al., 2016). Such changes include melting icecaps causing a rising sea level, changing weather patterns, deforestation, reduced water availability, and increasing cases of diseases and conditions related to high ultra-violet radiations and other environmental factors. The international community continues to focus on the development of strategies and measures for the elimination of the effects of climate changes and the reduction of the factors that contribute to the changes (United Nations, 2016).
The international community acknowledges the need for immediate action to curb climate change and reduce its impacts. The development of the millennium development goals and the inclusion of the issue therein reveals it as a critical global issue of concern (United Nations, 2016). The effort demonstrates that only a collective effort of the world as a whole will subvert climate change. The target is to ensure the integration of climate change measures into the national policies/strategies and planning and the improvement of resilience and adaptive capacity to hazards related to climate change and natural disasters. Additionally, improvement of education, awareness-raising and human/institutional capacity on climate change reduction, adaptation, impact minimization, and early warning are viewed as critical in the process. Furthermore, for the effective reduction of climate change and its impacts, the global community promotes mechanisms for capacity improvement for effective climate change-related management and planning in all countries (United Nations, 2016). These may serve a significant role in the promotion of climate change reduction/prevention but can only work with effective implementation.
There is a need for the protection, restoration, and the promotion of the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem, the sustainable management of forests, and combating desertification in order to halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss (United Nations, 2016). Working on the different issues will promote sustainability and limit climate change and its impacts. Governments have developed policies that focus on the aforementioned. The international community understands the need for sustainable management of all types of forests, the importance of halting deforestation and the restoration of degraded forests in the enhancement of afforestation and reforestation. Moreover, desertification and degradation of soil cause insurmountable climate changes that trigger droughts, floods, and land degradation. As such, there is a need for the promotion of measures that tackle the issues. Also, promoting sustainability in using terrestrial ecosystems will play a critical role in combating climate change (United Nations, 2016). All notwithstanding, all the measures would be inadequate for the management of climate change and its impact if there is no efficient implementation. The application of systems thinking is critical for the development of sustainability.
Systems Thinking for Developing Solutions to Sustainability Challenges
According to Stroh (2015), systems thinking is a management discipline concerned with an understanding of a system(s) through an examination of interactions and linkages between the components therein. The application of the systems thinking approach is critical for the development of solutions to sustainable challenges. It focuses on the creation of solutions that involve institutions and human contribution (as parts of the larger societal system) in the elimination of global and local sustainability challenges such as climate change and marine pollution among other challenges (Stroh, 2015; United Nations, 2016; Hopkins, 2014). Systems thinking offers an efficient solution to the issue of climate change. The application of the approach to the development of solutions to the significant sustainable challenge will place the international community on an elevated ground for the achievement of its goals. The millennium development goals, which mostly deal with sustainable challenges were developed on the concept of systems thinking. In the recent past, systems thinking has led to a significant success in the reduction of the impacts of sustainable challenges in the past (United Nations, 2016). For instance, the integration of systems thinking into tackling climate change-related issues continues to reveal positive changes. As such, it is true that the approach is critical for the development of solutions to sustainability challenges.
Systems thinking allows the involvement of all stakeholders in dealing with the issue of climate change (Hopkins, 2014). Every institution contributes to the development of the climate change sustainability challenge in a different way. The implementation of an all-inclusive approach that demands the collective effort of the international community would be effective in solving the challenge, which affects all its members. Systems thinking proves effective in the reduction of pollution which plays a significant role in promoting climate change. Its effectiveness stems from its ability to increase awareness of how every institution might contribute to solving the challenge. It empowers individuals and corporations to begin with actions that have the greatest impact in the process of pollution reduction. Moreover, systems thinking mobilizes the diverse stakeholders to work towards the enhancement of system effectiveness in tackling climate change and related concerns.
The international community must come together and fight the impacts of climate change. The process calls for the different stakeholders to understand their roles clearly and work towards the promotion of sustainability. Ecological and environmental sustainability demand the preservation, conservation, and effective management of natural resources. Corporations and individuals in the society must focus on the promotion of sustainable production and consumption (United Nations, 2016). For instance, corporations should focus on ensuring effective and sustainable use of natural resources and raw materials, efficient energy use, and efficiency in production, and proper disposal of wastes to minimize the release of pollutants into the environment (Cadez & Czerny, 2016; Proust, et al., 2012). On the other hand, homesteads have a responsibility to ensure sustainable consumption and proper disposal of wastes among other roles that limit pollution and combat climate change and its effects. It is the collective effort that will reduce climate change and prevent continued melting of icecaps, droughts, floods, and environmental diseases such as cancer (United Nations, 2016).
Systems thinking remains critical in the development of solutions for sustainability challenges. According to Stroh (2015), the approach focuses on the identification of the root causes of the complex problems and the development of high-leverage interventions for combating the issues and their impacts on the society. The integration of systems thinking in the development of a solution for climate changes shows the effectiveness of the approach. For instance, in dealing with climate change, the approach identified the causes of the changes and used the information to develop intervention measures. Pollution, deforestation, misuse of natural resources, mismanagement of forests and water bodies, urbanization, and unsustainable consumption and production patterns among others are some of the underlying causes of climate change (United Nations, 2016). Systems thinking has proved to be effective in the development of measures and strategies that promote sustainability. It aligns governments, corporate institutions, domestic institutions, and members of the society and pushes them to focus on the promotion of sustainable development (Duguma, et al., 2014). Therefore, that the approach is critical for the development of solutions to sustainability challenges is undeniable.
Using the systems thinking allows society systems, whether multinationals or domestic organizations, homesteads, profit and non-profit organizations, and government and non-governmental organizations, and individuals to contribute towards combating climate change and its impacts on the society (Stroh, 2015). The creation of a unity of purpose makes the achievement of the set goals possible. The elimination of the major causes of climate change ensures sustainability. Moreover, by working towards the same goal, the different societal systems and sub-systems enhance efficiency in tackling sustainability challenges, in this case, pollution, concerns such as deforestation, poor management of natural resources, land degradation and the loss of biodiversity among others. As such, system thinking is critical in the promotion of sustainable development through the creation of solutions to sustainability challenges (Varma, et al., 2014).
Systems thinking allows the effective implementation of climate policies. According to IPCC (2016), these policies are more effective for the enhancement of sustainability when consistently embedded within wider strategies designed for the enhancement of sustainability nationally and in regional development. The systems thinking allows the integration of the climatic policies and strategies into the broader sustainability strategies thus boosting success in the achievement of the set goals (Dowden, 2015). The approach takes into consideration the impact of climate variability, climate policy response, and related social and economic development on the achievement of the overall sustainable development (IPCC, 2016).
remains an evident sustainability challenge. There is a need for combating the
challenge and ensuring sustainable development. However, the release of wastes
including greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the environment, continued
unstainable production and consumption, deforestation and mismanagement of
natural resources among other continue to promote climate change. The
international community recognizes the need for a collective effort in
combating climate change and dealing with the root causes. The application of
the systems thinking in the process guarantees success in the process. The
creation of the millennium development goals and the implementation of
different measures and strategies by governments has led to significant success
in fighting climate change, its causes, and the impacts on the society. The implementation
of the goals using the systems thinking approach allows all society systems to
work collectively towards the achievement of a common goal. The process
promotes sustainability by encouraging all parties to work towards efficient
use and management of natural resources. Also, it increases awareness and
improves efficiency in all processes. As a holistic process that integrates the
efforts of all systems and sub-systems, systems thinking is critical for the
development of solutions for sustainability challenges that the society faces.
Cadez, S. & Czerny, A., 2016. Climate change mitigation strategies in carbon-intensive firms. Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, pp. 4132-4143.
Chanza, N. & de Wit, A., 2016. Enhancing climate governance through indigenous knowledge: Case in sustainability science. South African Journal of Science, 111 (3/4), pp. 35-41.
Dowden, M., 2015. Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Law, Policy and Practice. New york: Taylor & Francis.
Duguma, L. A., Minang, P. A. & van Noordwijk, M., 2014. Climate change mitigation and adaptation in the land use sector: from complementarity to synergy. Environmental Management, 54 (3) , pp. 420-432.
Garavito-Bermúdez, D., Lundholm, C. & Crona, B., 2016. Linking a conceptual framework on systems thinking with experiential knowledge. Environmental Education Research 22 (1), pp. 89-110.
Hopkins, D., 2014. The sustainability of climate change adaptation strategies in New Zealand’s ski industry: a range of stakeholder perceptions. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 22 (1), pp. 107-126.
IISD, 2016. Sustainable Development. [Online]
Available at: http://www.iisd.org/topic/sustainable-development
IPCC, 2016. The dual relationship between climate change and Sustainable Development. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch2s2-1-3.html
Marino, R. et al., 2016. Climate change: Production performance, health issues, greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation strategies in sheep and goat farming. Small Ruminant Research, 135, pp. 50-59.
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Proust, K. et al., 2012. Human health and climate change: leverage points for adaptation in urban environments. International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health, 9 (6), pp. 2134-2158.
Stroh, D. P., 2015. Systems thinking for social change : a practical guide to solving complex problems, avoiding unintended consequences, and achieving lasting results. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.
United Nations, 2016. Sustainable Development Goals. [Online]
Available at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300
Varma, N. et al., 2014. Climate Change, Disasters and Development: Testing the Waters for Adaptive Governance in India. Vision (09722629), 18 (4), pp. 327-33.