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Course module: 201900229
Systems thinking
Course info
Course module201900229
Credits (ECTS)5
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact S.P. Haveman
PreviousNext 2
Lecturer A.P. van den Beukel
Lecturer G.M. Bonnema
dr. M. Jafari Songhori
Lecturer K. Nizamis
dr. D. Ozkaramanli - Leerkes
Academic year2020
Starting block
Application procedureBOZ applies for you
Registration using OSIRISNo
After completing this course, students have developed themselves to:
  1. (Un)consciously Apply Systems Thinking Habits
  2. Identify and visualize the system(s) behind modern day societal problems
  3. Formulate different systemic viewpoints of a problem, reframe problems and adopt a boundaries perspective
  4. Explicitly define and quantify the behavior of a system in various scenarios
  5. Identify leverage points to change or influence systems while keeping in mind the law of unintended consequences
  6. Define adaptations to or new elements in systems to address societal problems and is able to outline pathways towards these future systems
  7. Co-develop system views and solutions for societal problems with a variety of stakeholders in the public, political, social and engineering domain
The Systems Thinking module is part of the Transdisciplinary Master-Insert Programme on Shaping Responsible Futures and aims to teach students how to apply Systems Thinking. It aims to teach students about Systems Thinking and its principles but also allows students to develop themselves into Systems Thinkers.
The course addresses several topics. It starts with a concise theoretical foundation of Systems Thinking and it principles. Afterwards, these principles will be applied in a project with a case study.
Systems Thinking focuses on fully considering a problem at hand in its context – the system. It is about actively thinking which parts of the system are either influenced by or influencing the problem. It is about uncovering (sometimes hidden) relations between elements in a system.
In this course, students will gain experience with Systems Thinking by applying a number of tools and techniques. These focus on both visualization and exploration of the selected case problems. Visualization tools are for example Causal Loop Diagrams and Gigamaps. Exploration is done through Backcasting, Budget Impact Analysis, identifying Leverage Points and using executable modelling techniques like System Dynamics. Central in the course are the application of the Habits of a System Thinker, supported by the System Thinking Tracks.
All of this is being executed in a multi-stakeholder context where System Viewpoints, Participatory Modelling, Visual Storytelling and Model Validation are concept that are part of the course curriculum.

Additional information:
This course is part of the Transdisciplinary Master-Insert Programme on Shaping Responsible Futures.
Assumed previous knowledge
Acceptance to the Transdisciplinary Master-Insert Programme ‘Shaping Responsible Futures’.
Required materials
Boardman & Sauser - Systems Thinking – Coping with 21st Century Problems (2008) Available online
Recommended materials
Meadows, Thinking in Systems (2008)
Sterman, Business Dynamics (2000)
Instructional modes
Presence dutyYes


Project unsupervised


Project Exam and Essay

Presentation and discussion of project portfolio / Reflective Essay of 2 A4 Max.

Kies de Nederlandse taal