Welcome to UW-Madison and welcome to Systems 100! In this class, we will answer questions such as: What is a system and how do they work? What do systems have to do with me and why do they matter? How can I be a systems thinker? By walking through this course together, we hope to ease you into your time at UW-Madison while exposing you to new patterns of thought that will impact your future classes, jobs, goals, and beyond!
Each week we will delve into new topics related to systems and give you a chance to hear from current professionals who use systems thinking in their work. You will discuss with your classmates, interact with your teachers, and reflect on personal experiences as the weeks progress. We hope you will think of this class as a small community within a large campus.
The outline of the course material will be as follows:
Module 1: Understanding Systems
Introduction to Systems and Terminology
Submodule 1a: Systems Today: History of Thought
Submodule 1b: System Basics
Submodule 1c: Connections in Systems
Module 2: Systems Behavior and Systems Modeling
Submodule 2a: System Management
Submodule 2b: Thresholds, Tipping Points
Submodule 2c: Resilience and Risk
Module 3: Applications of Systems Thinking: Directed Change
Submodule 3a: Institutions and Systems
Submodule 3b: Identity
Submodule 3c: Sustainable Systems
Submodule 3d: Welcome to the Anthropocene
Submodule 3e: Wicked Problems
The book “Thinking in Systems” by Donella H Meadows will be required reading as it serves as a key primer to the terminology and mechanics of Systems Thinking. In addition, individual modules will include content from a variety of sources: scholarly articles, newspaper articles, podcasts, TED talks, other videos, and guest lecturers. Each submodule will contain a differing collection of resources to better complement the material being taught.
A physical copy of “Thinking in Systems” may be purchased here (Links to an external site). A free PDF may be found here (Links to an external site).
1. Attend all classes. If class is missed, it is the student’s responsibility to make up missed work from other students, the TA, or the professor.
2. Arrive to lecture and discussion on time. Please account for any weather challenges that may prevent you from being punctual.
3. Submit weekly reading responses and assignments on time. Discussion relies heavily on the submitted reading responses and late responses will not be accepted.
4. Put forth a genuine effort to best understand the material and spend enough time on assignments and group-work.
5. Seek help when appropriate. Your professor and TA’s have weekly office hours and can be contacted via email. University Health Services also provides many additional resources.