System thinking and the sustainability debate

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:Business

Document 1

The struggle and efforts nevertheless need to be balanced with the needs of the people, taking into cognizance specific perspectives and weltanschauung that characterizes the existing relative patterns of culture, ideology, and religion. This far it is apparent that there are competing schools of thoughts that attempt to resolve the global sustainability challenges affecting the world today. Of special importance is that the situation reveals a dire dearth in unity and a common understanding of the specific approach that can help ameliorate the situation. While there is no universal model of resolving challenges, the theory of system thinking is one of the most empirical and useful postmodern models for tackling sustainability as a local and global challenge. System thinking approach appreciates the role of the holistic elements of the whole. It sets out that independent and specific elements of the whole seek their own perspectives in isolation. They consequently bring different perspectives to the system hence affecting patterns of thinking and interaction. This paper examines the system thinking approach to local and global sustainability challenges. It exemplifies the specific role that the approach plays in this dispensation. Finally, it provides a critical response to the seminal claims of the system thinking theory, arguing from a scholastic perspective supported by pedagogic sources. Subsidiary issues System thinking theory is derived from natural sciences. It was conceived for biological systems and has seen worldwide appreciation in the field of biology and cybernetics. It entails the way elements that form part of the whole functions and provide feedback in an interrelated system.

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As a result, the theory is seen as a critical and pertinent integration theory. The theory is based on the philosophical premise that if isolated, an element that forms the whole tends to act differently from when they are part of a system (Pandey, & Kumar 2016). System thinkers hence analyze the views, interaction, and rules that holistically define a system to determine how various issues are affected and why various patterns behave the way they do. Essentially, in a system thinking approach, the connections and boundaries that are needed to solve complex and evolving wicked challenges in the global realm are explicated and explored in depth (Arnold, & Wade 2015). By focusing on the whole system, system thinking is efficient and effective in resolving several problems at a go. One of the wicked problems in the world today is ensuring that development needs are balanced with the need of the local community and environment.

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This is what is referred to as sustainability. Essentially, system thinking is important for the various sustainability issues because it helps various communities and state actors in geopolitics to take meaningful action within the framework of the whole (Pandey, & Kumar 2016). They are called into action to ensure that their actions reflect the perspectives and idea of everybody in the system. Within the framework of the whole, policies are made and solutions availed and rules defined which impacts the economic and environmental behavior of all local and international actors. System thinking also defines the nature of the relationship, which also leads to responsible production and manufacturing behavior; two factors that are inherently important for a sustainable local and global society. Finally, system theory has an important role to play in the sustainable debate because the world has become increasingly smaller due to increased interdependence.

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This requires a systemic approach because it is not in line with the nature of humanity to seek a common good as an end to itself. The nature of mankind as a self-seeking, selfish entity has philosophical underpinnings in realism school of thought (Locke 2015). Mankind is predisposed to working together to resolve common issues. Systemic thinking brings individuals into communities with norms and traditions that should be abided by. Sustainability takes advantages of this state of affair to promote ethical environmental practices at the individual level. A state-centric approach to sustainability issues from a system thinking perspectives calls upon state actors to develop policies that align their economic and environmental practices to sustainability. This is a long call which also requires the commitment of the political establishment to enact laws and regulations that ensure the citizenry is not only happy but the environmental use does not jeopardize the capacity of the future generations to enjoy similar benefits.

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Non-state actors such as Multinational corporations also have a role to play in ensuring that proper laws and responsible perspectives and practices are developed for a safer tomorrow. MNCs which are the world leading exploiters of natural resources should commit to international best practices that include proper management of toxic waste in their tailspins impoundments (Alcamo 2017). In a similar strength, non-governmental organizations should be at the forefront of championing environmental and economic friendly practices through lobbying international bodies. This makes it a post-modern discourse with little data to back up the claim that it can resolve a myriad of global challenges. This has led to several critiques pointing out that the approach is good on paper but entirely insufficient to explain how world challenges can be resolved. In summary, system thinking is a theoretical approach that appreciates the interrelationship and perspectives of various elements making up the greater whole or system.

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It has recently received awareness and support from the intellectual community owing to its ability to resolve a myriad of interrelated issues affecting the greater whole. This quality also makes it very useful in addressing sustainability challenges such as environmental pollution, poverty and global warming which threatens the world. A definition of systems thinking: a systems approach. Procedia Computer Science, 44, pp. Jackson, T. Prosperity without growth:Economics for a Finite Planet. Routledge. Zimmermann, N. Papachristos, G. Broyd, T. Burman, E. Mumovic, D.

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