A Transdisciplinary World Model

Anthony Malcolm Hodgson


The complexities and non-linearities of the world system are increasing the mismatch between the way we think about the world and the actual behaviour of the world. In systems science this is summarised by expressions like unintended consequences, counter intuitive outcomes, emergent properties, synchronous failures and unpredictable knock-on effects. This whole field has been summed up as the global problematique. Increasing the match between our espoused world models and the behaviour of the real world in policies, strategies and decisions requires a major shift to holistic transdisciplinary approaches

This paper will describe the innovation and pilot testing of a transdisciplinary approach to stimulating systemic interconnected thinking about complex issues from the global level (for example climate change) to the local level (for example increasing resilience in a village community). The approach is based on a world system model which is designed to promote holistic and transdisciplinary conversations across twelve key dimensions of sustainable communities. The model serves several purposes ranging from a ‘World Game’ that groups of people can play to strategic workshops which challenge decision making beyond conventional scenario planning methods, to ways of mapping global impacts of climate change.

The paper will summarise some of these application experiments but also describe some of the main foundations from systems thinking that underpin the model. These include multi-factor modelling, variety engineering, feedback coupling, and non-linear behaviour.




transdisciplinary, problematique, decision, model, experiments, systems thinking. world game

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