Systems Research: How do we discover what we need to know, according to whom, and for what purpose?

Mary C Edson, Ph.D., Gary S. Metcalf, Ph.D.


The idea of the Anthropocene, an era in which human presence and behavior have become the most important factors of change on the Earth, increases long-standing questions about research.  How do we discover what we need to know according to whom and for what purpose?  The goal of our presentation is to introduce some consideration for a systemic approach to research and to provide stepping stones toward a path forward.

At a time in which the most troubling problems are often labeled as systemic (e.g. global financial relationships, environmental concerns, weather-related catastrophes, etc.) there is a need to reevaluate the ways in which we learn about and model the worlds in which we live. Increasingly, thought leaders recognize that critical thinking and positivistic approaches, while valuable, are insufficient to comprehensively and constructively address the most pressing issues of our time. Our ability to capture the dynamic nature of systems remains limited, though. As the urgency of issues related to governing the Anthropocene becomes more prevalent, Systems Research and application in Systems Practice is gaining increased attention across and beyond the Systems Sciences.


Anthropocene, Systems Research, complexity, assumptions of science, students, researchers

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