Concordia has a complex and ever-changing web of institutional initiatives, student groups, and fee-levy that interact and advance our sustainability efforts. Karine has come across this first hand as a participant in the Sustainability Ambassadors program.
Complexity can often equate to chaos; one way to make sense of the mess is to apply system thinking to identify underlying patterns (Burnes, 2005). This framework aims to build a representation of the real world that is simple enough to be grasped by our minds and detailed enough to inform decision-making. Systems thinking also allows us to anticipate a system’s future trajectories and assess the potential impacts of interventions. One of the tools of system thinking is system mapping.
Karine utilized this tool to orient the community and bring structure to a sometimes overwhelming amount of information around sustainability at Concordia. This approach has three advantages:
– Representing sustainability at Concordia as a complex and interactive system is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of sustainability and avoiding falling into the trap of over-simplification.
– System thinking shifts thought processing from sustainability as a problem that is only the responsibility of some groups on campus to seeing sustainability as a shared responsibility.
– System Maps are most effective when they get people together. When studying the same map, actors within the system develop a shared understanding beyond their organization.
Themes: Community, Social Justice