Summer school day two: all systems go

Sometimes your mind just fills in the gaps, and sometimes you see things that just aren’t there! Participants started the second day of the IFSTAL summer school with an exercise designed to highlight how our thinking can often be pre-conditioned and outside of our conscious awareness and control. A bit of a rude awakening before coffee, but this is Systems Day! A chance to delve deeper into systems thinking and pick up some useful tools and methodologies along the way

In the morning, Dr Harley Pope led explorations into how we frame situations, creating selective representations of reality, and the implications of this for systems analysis. Participants were encouraged to reflect on their thinking and build time for this into their decision-making processes. To help them in their project work, students were shown how to scope situations to quickly generate an understanding of different systems, and how to structure thinking around future intervention strategies.

Dr Harley Pope leading a session on systems thinking

In the afternoon we were joined by Mark Driscoll, Founder and Director of Tasting the Future, a not-for-profit sustainable food systems consultancy. Mark gave an inspiring account of his wide-ranging career, and how he came to start his own consultancy. Participants were able to draw on Mark’s experience as he highlighted what he saw as the key considerations in applying food systems thinking in real contexts, brought to life through a series of fascinating case studies. Towards the end of the session, he led students in an exercise that they could use to explore future scenarios.

Mark Driscoll shares his career background

After a packed day, everyone headed off campus to the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) for an introduction by Guy Baxter, Associate Director. Enjoying free rein in the museum, we were able to explore the weird and wonderful diversity of England’s rural culture and history. We finished up the evening with a buffet and drinks reception, before heading back in anticipation of day three.

The Museum of English Rural Life explores the experiences of farmers and craftspeople, past and present

Catch up on all the summer school 2019 news here