Learning System Mapping to Solve Socio-Ecological Problems: an Inside Look at the COAST Chair
In order to find collective solutions to climate change issues, Dr. Domenico Dentoni and Dr. Helen Etchanchu, the two co-holders of the COAST Chair, are organizing a series of workshops to train students, researchers and economic actors in systems mapping and thus identify the levers for initiating change in an innovative and sustainable way.
Developing collective knowledge to support systemic change
A few months ago, the two professors had the opportunity to participate in the 81st Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management to experiment and share the results of the tests of their systems mapping methodology conducted with 150 agricultural professionals in Malawi and Zimbabwe.
To initiate systemic change, i.e., a collective modification of the organization or rules in a system, it is necessary to provide a shared vision and meaning of the problems by all the actors.
“For a long time, we thought that mapping models and tools were too complex and intended only for the research public. Our experience has shown that after spending time training and explaining the process, farmers, students and business actors are perfectly able to understand, adopt and disseminate these tools,” explains Dr. Domenico Dentoni.
Mapping, recommending, communicating
The interest of mapping a system is to consider the whole system and its interactions in order to solve a vast problem, rather than focusing on its symptoms.
“Mapping makes it possible to identify and include all the actors in an ecosystem, to understand the interactions and impacts that bind them, and thus to recommend experiments to solve the problem. This tool is designed to make a sustainable change and help students, entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs to rethink the foundations of a structure or an economy in a sustainable way. The deployment of such methodologies is fundamental to face the complexity of socio-ecological issues” concludes Dr. Domenico Dentoni.
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