Abstract: We face a global crisis of un-sustainability—we need to change trajectory, but have so far displayed a collective inability to do so. This article suggests that one reason for this is our entrenched approach to change, which has inappropriately applied mechanistic Newtonian assumptions to “living” systems. Applying what has been learned about the behaviour of complex adaptive systems, we develop a pragmatic model for students of sustainability, who want to facilitate profound organizational and community change towards sustainability on the ground. Our model, “one way forward”, does not purport to be the only way but one possibility, grounded in a different understanding of the nature and dynamic of change as seen through the lens of complexity. In this way, it challenges more conventional change management practices. One way forward is a model facilitating evolutionary change in a social ecology—one possible expression of a “culture of community self-design” as expressed by Banathy. Its theoretical foundations and its practical application (it is designed for practice) both have their source in a systemic view and in the principles that reflect the paradigm of complexity. Four central components of this new model—envisioning, core messages (values), indicators of progress, and experimentation—are explored in more detail.
Abstract: We propose here a formal approach to study collective behaviors intended as coherent sequences of spatial configurations, adopted by agents through various corresponding structures over time. Multiple, simultaneous structures over time and their sequences are called Meta-Structures and establish sequences of spatial configurations considered as emergent on the basis of coherent criteria chosen and detected by an observer. This coherence is represented by patterns of values of the proper mesoscopic variables adopted, i.e., meta-structural properties. We introduce a formal tool, i.e., the family of mesoscopic general vectors, defined by the observer, able to detect coherent behaviors like ergodic or quasi-ergodic ones. Such approach aims to provide a general framework to study intrinsically stochastic processes where the “universal evolution laws” fail. However, at the same, the system is structured enough to show significant clusters of collective behaviors “invisible to” simple statistics.
Abstract: A circular thermodynamics of organisms and sustainable systems is presented based on dynamic closures in nested space-time domains that enable the system to approach the ideal of zero entropy production simultaneously at equilibrium and far from equilibrium conditions.
Abstract: Sustainability is not just for Christmas… it’s for life. Sustainable solutions, whether sought in terms of business strategies, social policies, or the exploitation of natural resources have to serve organizations and communities in the long term, sometimes very long term, as well as the short term. Static analysis is unlikely to be able to evaluate candidate solutions fully, and is more likely to focus on the short-term future to the detriment of the longer-term. Sustainable solutions are more likely to be developed from studies based on deep analysis using systems approaches, and from system dynamics (SD) approaches in particular.
Abstract: We live in a world in which complexity characterizes all human endeavors today, such as healthcare, economic development, environmental protection, gender relationships, poverty, mental health, business management and social responsibility (just to name a few). The issues facing our world have become increasingly complex due to the fact that they are embedded in a global web of ecological, economic, social, cultural and political processes and dynamic interactions. These complex problems and challenges cannot anymore be addressed and solved in isolation and with the single dimensional mindsets and tools of the past.
Abstract: In a situation of an unexpected catastrophe, uncertainty and demand for information are constant. In such a disaster scenario, the CRISIS system arises as a tool to contribute to previous coordination, procedure validation, exercise execution, a good and frequent communication among organizations, and weakness and threat assessment for an appropriate risk management. It offers a wide variety of tools for online communication, consultation and collaboration that, up to this day, includes cartography, tasks, resources, news, forums, instant messaging and chat. As a complement, mathematical models for training and emergency management are being researched and developed. For Argentinean society, it is a necessity to switch from the current handcrafted, bureaucratic emergency management method to a decision-making management model. Previous coordination, exercise execution, a fluid communication among institutions, and threats and weaknesses assessment are required for a proper risk management. With that goal in mind, it is important to reduce confusion, avoid the duplication of efforts to fulfill the same tasks, and have access to a complete vision of the situation, generated from the data of all the organizations taking part. The CRISIS system is a secure web application, accessible to every node in a network formed by the organizations which have complementary responsibilities during prevention and response. It offers a wide variety of tools for online communication, consultation and collaboration that, up to this day, includes cartography, tasks, media (organization and resources), news, forums, instant messaging and chat. As a complement, mathematical models for training and emergency management are being researched and developed. Currently, there are toxicological and epidemiological emergency models available. The present paper analyses, from the perspectives related to risk management for emergencies and disasters, the strengths and weaknesses of the CRISIS system to be used for prevention, response and recoveries in the case of a catastrophe.