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From the email list February 2013...

I am interested in how living systems thinking is being applied in public education. Is anyone doing this or does anyone know where resources for this can be found. 


Jim: I am not sure I understand the difference between "living" systems thinking versus mere "systems thinking" which is a discipline of its own with a few reputable references and a rich history. If you referred to systems thinking applied to education, a good video out of many possible tells the story of how it has been carried out in a specific case for children. 

From minute 4' onwards, specifically on systems thinking for kids 

Hope this helps. 

Regarding systems thinking (and organizational learning) applied to education there is P.Senge's "Schools that learn", especially chapter about "Systems Thinking in the Classroom".

There is wonderful guide "The Systems thinking playbook" by Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows about how to learn and build systems thinking capabilities through fun exercises and games.

hth, igor




Here are a couple resources that might be of interest to you:

For integrating living systems as a framework for curriculum development:

This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in developing a student-centered curriculum that builds on the insights of living systems science. Ed was my academic advisor for graduate school and he become a personal advisor on my spiritual path. He also married my husband and I J He consulted with a number of US schools and his books has an international audience.

Ed T. Clark, Jr. Designing and Implementing an Integrated Curriculum: A Student-Centered Approach

For an overview of the book:

An excerpt:

“Ed Clark, more adeptly than anyone else, has translated the revolutionary insights of systems theory and ecological science into a specific educational agenda for the twenty-first century. In this new and compelling book, he makes it clear that "integrated curriculum" is more than the mere combination of subject areas, and more than another passing educational fad: By examining hidden assumptions about human potential, learning and intelligence, the nature of the universe, and the effectiveness of organizations, Clark demonstrates that the established educational structure is not equipped to cope with the major changes taking place in the world today. He calls for systemic restructuring.”

To download Chapter 2 The Design Solution: Systems Thinking

For another resource is Stephanie Pace Marshall’s The Power to Transform: Leadership that Brings Learning and Schooling to Life. Her work is based on living systems theory, and chapter two of her book is devoted to explaining “What Living Systems Teach Us”. For more:

Finally, I have not read these two books but always want to in grad school. They are on my shelf for someday…

Bela Banathy

A Systems View of Education

Systems Design of Education

You can find his books on

Hope this is helpful.


Hi everyone,

Marianne Franke-Gricksch book "You're One of Us" (original. German title: "Du gehoerst zu uns") addresses the cooperation between teachers students and parents. Practical examples of systemic thinking in action.

You're One of Us! Systemic Insights and Solutions for Teachers, Students and Parents.

"In this gripping account of her work, Marianne Franke-Gricksch speaks from her experience as a teacher and therapist, describing how systemic ideas enable fundamentally new and effective learning and encourage creative cooperation between students, teachers, and parents. Rather than viewing the participants in this process as isolated individuals, she shows how people and their environment constantly influence and change each other. Franke-Gricksch's own systemic view connects Bert Hellinger's work on the power of one's bond with his or her family of origin with various other approaches within systemic theory. The author's reports are consistently supported by practical examples from the everyday classroom situation. Especially fascinating is the children's enthusiasm and array of ideas that they use to pick up and transfer the new impulses and procedures. Readers who are new to these methods will also be amazed at the powerful effect that is released by systemic thinking and action."

Best wishes



Hi, Jim!

Here are a few resources that I have utilized and learned about through my studies and work in sustainability education:

Higher Ed

Widhalm, B. (2011, March). Educators as architects of living systems: Designing vibrant learning experiences beyond sustainability and systems thinking. Journal of Sustainability Education, 2, ISSN 2151-7452.

Ferdig, M. A. (2007, March). Sustainability leadership: Co-creating a sustainable future. Journal of Change Management, 7(1), 25-35.

Evergreen College Sustainability Learning Outcomes (n.d.). Retrieved from

Burns, H. (2009). Skilled in sustainability: Teaching sustainability in skills-based courses.  In W. Leal Filho (Ed.), Sustainability at universities: Opportunities, challenges and trends (pp. 195-205). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.

Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies

Center for Ecoliteracy

Stone, M. K., & Barlow, Z. (Eds.). (2005).  Ecological LiteracyEducating our Children for a Sustainable World. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Cloud Institute

:) Angela Hamilton


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