On the 15th and 16th of November we held the second evening IFSTAL workshop at locations across our different sites. The aim of the workshops was to support students in developing practical systems thinking skills through multidisciplinary group work, and embed the knowledge gained from working through the online units.
In this workshop, students applied the BATWOVE framework, a tool from Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), to create and analyse options for promoting sustainable food provision at our respective universities. The brief was open-ended to allow a degree of freedom in the types of initiatives proposed.
The BATWOVE framework is useful for structuring thinking around a challenging situation, because it requires students to clearly and concisely articulate the nature of their proposed intervention, as well as the ‘world view’ that underpins it. Developing these qualities, and being explicit about the underlying rationale of an intervention, is important in communicating proposed interventions to other stakeholders. BATWOVE is a mnemonic device that helps structure thinking by prompting you to consider Beneficiaries, Actors, the Transformation, Worldview, Owners of the process, Victims and broader Environmental Constraints acting on an intervention. It challenges you to think about the opportunities and constraints that might affect your proposed intervention, the people involved, and the ramifications of your activity on them. It thereby introduces an ethical dimension into your thinking, as well as helping you to identify potential issues ahead of developing an action plan for your intervention.
By doing this exercise in multidisciplinary groups, students have the opportunity to expand their understanding of a situation, develop their critical systems thinking, debate different proposals, and practice presenting their work at the end. It’s not all hard work though! Our workshops at Reading provide an opportunity for students to relax, socialise and network with their colleagues and friends from across the university, while hopefully learning something useful in the process.
Log in to the Portal to find out more about the online units and the upcoming workshops at your local institution. If you have any questions contact your local Education Coordinator or post in our online forum.
Blog by Harley Pope, IFSTAL Education Coordinator, University of Reading.
Link to Unit 2: Introduction to Systems Thinking (log-in required).
See the outline schedule of all IFSTAL events.