Beyond COVID: Reframing the Global Problematique with STiP (Systems Thinking in Practice)
Abstract: Since 2019 humanity has been subjected to the perturbations of pandemic, economic disruption, war, civil unrest and changes in whole-Earth dynamics associated with a human-induced Anthropocene. Each perturbation is like a wave-front breaking on the shore of our historical ways of thinking and acting, increasingly unfit for our human circumstances. This challenge to humanity is not new. In 1970 the French term ‘problematique’ was coined to refer to a set of 49 interrelated global problems; the classic description of wicked and tame problems was published soon after, yet little progress has been made towards answering the question: what purposeful action will aid human flourishing, create and sustain a viable space for humanity, in our ongoing co-evolution with the Anthropocene-Biosphere? A case for innovation in our ways of knowing and doing is made based on arguments that our social world is constrained by: (i) explanations we accept that are no longer relevant to our circumstances; (ii) outdated historical institutions (in the institutional economics sense) that contribute as social technologies to a broader human created and ungoverned technosphere; (iii) inadequate theory-informed practices, or praxis, and (iv) governance-systems no longer adequate for purpose. Practitioners of knowledge science and systems science are urged to act reflexively to critically evaluate the traditions-of-understanding out of which they think and act.
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