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New complexity module teaches students to think systemically

November 24, 2017
Matt Barrett 339981

In collaboration with the International Baccalaureate and United World Colleges (UWC), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has published a new resource - ’Exploring a complexity module for the IB Diploma Programme’. This module highlights the importance of complexity as a lens through which to view real-world systems, encouraging students to meet complex challenges with new ways of seeing and thinking. Using a variety of case studies, the flexible module equips students with key terms and concepts associated with complexity science and systems thinking, which can be applied across disciplines.

Complexity science may be defined as “the study of the phenomena which emerge from a collection of interacting objects.” - Johnson, Neil F. (2009)

Authored by innovative educator, Sara Heinrich, and Complexity Consultant, Dr Roland Kupers, this resource is the result of a truly collaborative effort between the IB, UWC and Ellen MacArthur Foundation - all of whom share the common goal of catalysing positive change through education.

A Year 12 student from UWC Mahindra College said of her experience:

The sessions on systems thinking and complexity were some of the most important education I've received at MUWCI. Because it happened so early on in our academic year, it shaped my thinking throughout the rest of it. Systems thinking became an integral part of my approach to learning and classes. The holistic manner in which it was taught- through activities, presentations and engagement- was an important part of the depth to which I felt I was able to grasp the core concepts.

- Phoebe Rose Mason

A special thanks to Pelham Lindfield Roberts and Cary Reid of UWC Mahindra College for providing a testing ground for this important project as well as contributing valuable insights, and to Jane Drake and Kelvin Williams of the IB for their ongoing support.

This module is now openly accessible on the Schools & Colleges page of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website. Please use, adapt, and share to help teachers and students alike gain a perspective on complex systems.