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Developing a New Curricula on Systems-Thinking

16th Oct 2016 by admin - , (0) Comment


The mindset with which we perceive and interpret the world affects what we think and ultimately do. How we think about a challenge influences the design of our response and the ‘solutions’ we create. However, most secondary schooling practices reduce the complexity of the world to studying the individual parts of a problem, often overlooking the deep interconnectedness of most real-world systems.

As much of the work that students at MUWCI do is through student-driven inquiry, understanding the complexity of the problems that they attempt to solve is an important part of their preparation to be change makers.

To address this need for improving complexity thinking among our students, MUWCI is working with partners on developing a new course. This November, a small cohort of first year students will participate in the pilot of this course in complexity, along with some operational research on how well the course does at helping our students make these connections. We are working with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the International Baccalaureate Organisation to develop a course on complexity with the aim that it can be integrated into the structure of the IB Diploma.

Sara Heinrich (Germany, ’08) from EMAF, who is also a MUWCI alumna, was on campus last month to conduct sessions and interview students. Sara leads embedding learning for a circular economy into schools’ and colleges’ curriculum worldwide. She works with schools, school networks, teacher training providers and curriculum boards and is collaborating in particular with MUWCI to curate materials created in the process, making them openly accessible to all educators.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a thought leader in systems thinking, specifically the concept of the Circular Economy. The work of the EMAF on the Circular Economy – an economy that is regenerative and restorative by design and aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times – is an important contribution to the development of the curriculum.

Complexity science is a field of study that intentionally connects the methods and content from different disciplines with a view to helping understand the full extent of the problems and possible solutions involved. In conjunction with the Peoples, Nations and Cultures course here at MUWCI, the course in complexity will give students a lens through which to see their work as a unified cohesive learning program.

The structure of the IB with the six subject groups and the core of Theory of Knowledge and Extended Essay has at times led to the siloing of subjects. For a student, the separation of learning by subjects may not constructively contribute towards a holistic understanding of systems and how their many obvious or imperceptible parts fit together. With this course, the IB would approach the need for greater complexity understanding from another angle. With this work on complexity we hope to help students make stronger connections between their work in each of their subjects to improve their learning.

The work in systems thinking and complexity science comes through direct mandate of MUWCI’s Vision 2022 objectives to provide innovative 21st century education to better equip our students in grappling with the challenges of tomorrow. To get in touch about curriculum collaborations and innovations please email [email protected] and [email protected] 

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