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Systems 2014, 2(3), 313-327; doi:10.3390/systems2030313

Using Systems Thinking to Educate for Sustainability in a Business School

1
Business School, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK
2
Business School, Durham University, Durham City, DH1 3LB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2014 / Revised: 18 June 2014 / Accepted: 20 June 2014 / Published: 11 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet)
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Abstract

This paper explores what it means for a business school to embed systems thinking and sustainability into the curriculum by looking at both the application of systems thinking to the design of sustainable programmes and the teaching of system thinking to support understanding of sustainability. Although programmes that include systems thinking and sustainability as “bolt ons” are becoming more common, how these may best be integrated throughout the curriculum is still largely unexplored. In this paper, curriculum design is viewed through the lens of Stafford Beer’s Viable System Model; viewing the management curriculum in this way emphasises the essential interconnectedness of the subject matter rather than its reduction into blocks of knowledge that are containable within standard size teaching modules. Merely recognising the interconnected nature of management knowledge does not go far enough, though, and there is a complementary need to equip students with approaches for describing more complex and pluralistic views of the world and to address such complexities. In this paper, the specification of a module, underpinned by Flood and Jackson’s System of Systems Methodologies, that might serve to achieve these ends by introducing business students to a range of systems approaches is discussed. The challenges that realizing such an undertaking in practice might involve are also reflected on.
Keywords: systems thinking; sustainability; education; curriculum design; business schools systems thinking; sustainability; education; curriculum design; business schools
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Gregory, A.; Miller, S. Using Systems Thinking to Educate for Sustainability in a Business School. Systems 2014, 2, 313-327.

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