The measurement of the development of systems and general thinking in agricultural areas of Colombia; preliminary results

Sjors Witjes, Pablo Muñoz Specht, Carolina Montoya Rodriguez


The present research started with two hypotheses: the development of an organic vegetable garden by children between 7 and 10 years old, living in agricultural areas in Colombia, develops their systems thinking, and there is a direct relationship between the development of system thinking and the level of general thinking of these children. The research has been based on the application and adjustment of an empirical methodology and its tools in an initial project in the rural town of Barichara, Colombia. It is planned to further refine this methodology and its tools by its application in other Colombian towns resulting inductively in a general application plan within Colombian rural towns in general. The final goal of the total project is to be able to decrease the social, environmental and economic problems of the people in agricultural areas in Colombia by the development of systems thinking of these communities.
The research methodology and its tools of the initial project have been developed empirically using the knowledge and experience of the research group members. The tools were applied within the three research phases: before, during and after the children’s activities in the organic community garden. Before and after the activities, tools have been applied to measure the general thinking level and system thinking development of the children. During the activities, a tool has been applied to guide the children in their learning process of the garden, and to measure the development of their systems thinking.
The initial project has been applied within the rural town of Barichara, Colombia and has been developed by an interdisciplinary research group, coordinated by 1 project leader. The group of children consists of 11 rural and 11 urban children, with a reference group of 22 (11 urban and 11 rural) children. The organic community garden has been developed conceptually by the research group and physically (before the activities of the children) by local experts in organic gardens all coordinated by the project leader. During the activities, an expert in social projects with the children of the community has been accompanying the project leader with the guidance of the children with their activities.


systems thinking; organic agriculture; rural areas; Colombia.

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