Thursday 19 July 2012

July again!

Must be something about July that takes me back to my blog!  Just back from trips to Denmark and Spain - a welcome touch of summer.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Moving on

I find it hard to believe that it's already mid-July.  The countryside round here is changing colour daily as the crops ripen.  A month ago it seemed all green but now there's much more contrast....makes it easier to paint!  I've been spending more time at my desk that I like but when I have got out there's been some splendid sights of summer.

Wednesday 19 January 2011

Monbiot's invitation to argue

I don't always agree with George Monbiot's point of view but do find he makes me think and there's been many a time that he's made me aware of events and issues I didn't know much about. I value conversation and a dialogue that moves on and used to think that these forms of communication were at odds with 'debate'. I've changed my mind about that. I think skilled argument and debate has a key role in moving us on, so I note with interest Monbiot's tour of the UK to engage in arguments and debates and will try and get along to one of these events.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Whole system reform - evidence of systemic or systematic thinking?

Michael Gove in his speech to the Education World Forum on 11th January commented that
"....whole-system reform is needed to every aspect of our education system if we are to build a truly world-class education system."
The current UK Government seems to have latched on to the idea of whole-system reform not just in education but in many other areas such as health and planning. While I recognise some needs for change I'm very uneasy about the scale of these proposed changes all at the same time. I do wonder if Gove and his colleagues recognise that 'whole-system reform' is not something they'll be able to control. So I doubt it will work out as a fair process for all even if that's what's intended. There are likely to be many unintended consequences. It'd be good to see this sort of comment as evidence of systemic thinking but I get a sense that it's more about systematic change.

Friday 14 January 2011

An update

Quite a gap here since my last blog entry but a lot going on. I've been blogging a little on another site within the OU in my role as Chair of TU812 Managing Systemic Change - a new OU course that started in November. I wanted to try out the blogging tools on our VLE. I'm also chairing TD866 Environmental Responsibility at present and have been enjoying the student forums.

There are times when my reflections don't reach my blog but I find it useful to note down what I've been up to so I can keep track. Things I've been thinking about since my last blog entry:

Cemetries and green burial sites - new territory for me because of a recent bereavement. What purpose do permanent memorials serve? I think they are pretty important but can take many different forms and are about the living as much as the dying. There's a peace of mind that comes with knowing that there's somewhere respectful, peaceful and beautiful to sit and remember. There are some lovely places around UK where this is possible - an increasing number of them associated with 'natural death'.

At the end of October I enjoyed a day out at the Resurgence conference in London - 'To be a pilgrim or tourist?' The idea challenges consumerist views of tourism and is about trying to shift the balance more towards appreciating nature and culture. I found Satish Kumar inspiring as were several of the other speakers. Loved Deborah Harrison's poems, the energy and thinking of Peter Owen Jones and thought Ursula King's overview was great.

Right now I'm thinking about the flooding in Brazil, Australia and Sri Lanka. Trying to make sense of what's going on and the continuing commentary - human suffering and resilience, La Nina weather patterns due to ocean cooling, the nature of links with climate change. Heartbreaking to see people in Brazil searching for lost relatives.

Friday 27 August 2010

Two summer trips

This summer I've been lucky enough to go on two trips. The first was to Vienna to the International Farming Systems Association conference. I haven't been to a conference for a while and it was good to get out and meet fellow researchers and to participate in some workshops and a fieldtrip to the Hungarian border, where we saw the grey horned cattle that have lived there forever, now owned by the National Park. We also met and talked there with a couple of farmers - interesting to hear of their experiences. I chose to focus on climate change in the conference through this workshop . There's a copy of my paper posted here. I also attended a lot of the sessions in this workshop.
The second trip was to mid-Wales for a break. Great place to go in August - green, quiet and quite splendidly scenic.

Our new books and courses

Our books for the new Open University Masters Programme: Systems Thinking in Practice are now all available. The books are:
(i) Blackmore, Chris (Ed.). (2010) Social Learning Systems and Communities of Practice. Springer: London.
(ii) Ison, Ray (2010) Systems Practice: How to Act in a Climate-Change World. Springer: London.
(iii) Ramage, Manus and Shipp, Karen (2009) Systems Thinkers. Springer: London.
(iv) Reynolds, Martin and Holwell, Sue Systems Approaches to Managing Change. Springer:London.

We have now completed the two core courses of our new Masters in Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) one of which is already being studied by over 90 students. This first core module is " Thinking Strategically: systems tools for managing change" (OU code TU811).
The second core module, "Managing systemic change: inquiry, action, and interaction" (TU812) will be presented for the first time in November 2010.