Systems Thinking & Diversity.


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When we founded Aurora Now in 1998, our mission was to educate people — especially young people — about the value of diversity within our human family. We wanted to take a unique approach to the issue, to go beyond designing programs about tolerance, which was already being addressed very effectively by other non profit organizations.

Our research in the area of 'whole systems' led us to involvement in the International Society for Systems Sciences and the International Systems Institute. What emerged through our research were several key principles within the systems sciences that evolved our approach to the design of our programs.

There is a systems principle that says a system must be as diverse as its environment in order to remain viable. Our differences should not simply be tolerated—they should be celebrated. Just like ecosystems need biodiversity to stay healthy, our human systems—our families, communities, organizations, plus the larger systems of our economies and societies—all require our diversity to remain healthy. And human beings are as diverse as our DNA: We believe every one of us brings a unique contribution to the systems of which we are a part.

You're probably asking yourself, so what is "systems thinking" and what is a 'system' anyway?

"Systems Thinking" is a perspective based on the principles of the systems sciences that seeks to understand complex interconnections and how 'parts' or 'components' of a system interrelate to create an 'emergent whole' that is more than just the sum of the parts. Think of it this way: A flashlight works only when all the parts are put together in just the right relationship to each other; if the bulb is missing, or a battery inserted incorrectly, it won't make light. Systems thinking focuses on the importance of relationships to create real "synergy" — where the whole is more than the sum of the parts because the whole is the result of the parts in meaningful and right relationship to each other.

Why and how synergy happens is explained in some of the other basic principles of the new sciences, which have emerged in the past fifty years or so since Einstein presented the world the theory of relativity. Quantum physics, cybernetics, chaos, complexity, and new understandings in evolutionary theory have all helped us better understand how the world works and how we can cope with problems that seem overwhelmingly complex. All this science stuff may sound complicated, but it really isn't. It's more about learning how to think in new ways and see things from many different perspectives at the same time.

Our friend and colleague, Kathia Laszlo explains how systems thinking helps us look at the world in a new way:

"[S]ystems thinking transcends both reductionism and holism. Systems thinking implies the understanding of the complementarity and unity of 'apparent opposites' and of the interactions that join them, instead of focusing on the competitive characteristics that exist between them. Therefore, apparent opposites -- such as men and women, East and West, self and other, mind and body, reason and emotion, science and spirituality, society and ecosystem -- are interdependent complements that can coexist in harmonious balance and diversified unity under the systems paradigm"

We invite you to explore our web site and learn how we apply these new understandings from science to help human systems create better futures.

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