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Thinking in Systems:

A Primer

Thinking in Systems, is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. Edited by the Sustainability Institute’s Diana Wright, this essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

Some of the biggest problems facing the world—war, hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation—are essentially system failures. They cannot be solved by fixing one piece in isolation from the others, because even seemingly minor details have enormous power to undermine the best efforts of too-narrow thinking.

While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to stay a learner.

In a world growing ever more complicated, crowded, and interdependent, Thinking in Systems helps readers avoid confusion and helplessness, the first step toward finding proactive and effective solutions.

Product Details
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Published: December 3, 2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603580557
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603580557

$19.95 USD

Paperback

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About the Author

Donella Meadows

Dr. Donella H. Meadows, a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and a MacArthur Fellow, was one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the twentieth century. After receiving a Ph.D in biophysics from Harvard, she joined a team at MIT applying the relatively new tools of system dynamics to global problems. She became principal author of The Limits to Growth (1972), which sold more than 9 million copies in 26 languages. She went on to author or co-author eight other books.

In 1996, Donella founded the Sustainability Institute with the mission of fostering transitions to sustainable systems at all levels of society, from local to global. The Institute adopted the name of its founder in 2011 and renewed its commitment to the organization’s original mission and to making Donella’s work easily and broadly accessible.

Three qualities that Donella combined brilliantly were dedication to scientific rigor, deeply grounded optimism, and the ability to communicate well. Her system tools enabled her to see clearly the root causes of seemingly intractable problems — poverty, war, environmental degradation, unsustainable growth — and her deep affection for people and the earth gave her a unique power to reach others.

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