Seasonal Elder Call: Beth Sawin

Systems Thinking: Places to Intervene Within a System

What Would Have To Change for Your Vision To Be Realized?

"Systems thinking is the art of seeing the world in terms of wholes, and the practice of focusing on the relationships among the parts of a system. By looking at reality through a systems thinking "lens," you can work with a system—rather than against it—to create enduring solutions to stubborn problems in every arena of your life. Practicing this discipline involves learning to recognize "signature" systemic behaviors all around you, and familiarizing yourself with some special terminology and some powerful tools unique to this field." This call will focus on recognizing and working with stocks and flows in a system.


Please complete the Stocks and Flows exercise in the context of your project before joining the call. Beth will ask up to 3 Fellows to discuss how they approached the exercise. This is a powerful opportunity to learn alongside your Fellow Fellows.


Beth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive. She is a scientist, writer, teacher, and public speaker whose work for the past fifteen years has combined analysis with coaching, teaching and communication approaches that help people transform systems towards sustainability. Beth leads Climate Interactive’s engagement with the climate science and policy communities – for instance she contributed as a co-lead author of the UNEP commissioned report on the pledges associated with the 2010 Copenhagen Accord. She also leads the effort to make Climate Interactive’s tools and analyses available to civil society leaders and grassroots groups.


Before co-directing Climate Interactive, Beth worked for thirteen years at Sustainability Institute (SI) where she worked closely with SI’s founder, Donella Meadows, the internationally known thinker and writer who applied systems analysis to the challenge of sustainability and whose approach continues to influence the work of Climate Interactive.


While at Sustainability Institute, Beth conducted research on the system dynamics of commodity agriculture, developed trainings in systems thinking for sustainability and served as a facilitator and coach within the Donella Meadows leadership Fellows Program.


Beth is also a writer who focuses on the systemic leverage points for a sustainable society. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including, Utne Reader, Timeline, Population Press, Grist, and Annals of Earth. She was also a lead writer of Sustainability Institute’s report on Commodity Systems.


Beth is a biologist with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Beth lives in rural Vermont and is a member of Cobb Hill Co-housing along with her husband, Phil Rice, and their two daughters.


Beth's writings and presentations can be found here.


Tuesday, Jan. 8th 2013 at 7am

Google Plus Hangout

The call will take place at 10 a.m. EST, which is 7 a.m. PST, 3 p.m. in Ghana, 5 p.m. in Egypt, and 8.30 p.m. IST.


Please be available on Google Plus and join the Hangout at least 20 minutes before the call to minimize technological troubles. We are using Google Plus so that Beth can diagram your stocks and flows via an online whiteboard.


You will need to have joined Google Plus and to have the Google video chat plugin installed. You can get it here.


If anyone else will be without internet access, but would like to attend, please let me know. I will dial you in. Aimee, Bassma, Samar, Sameer, Titus, Colleen, and Erin have rsvp'd so far. If you have not rsvp'd, but would like to attend, please let me know asap.


If you have any questions, please let Bidisha know.