Initial Publication Date: March 13, 2017

Fostering Systems Thinking in Your Students

Next Webinar

Incorporating Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration in Your Course
Thursday, March 30th
12:00 pm PT | 1:00 pm MT | 2:00 pm CT | 3:00 pm ET

Wednesday, March 22nd

9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET

Presenters: Lisa Gilbert (Williams College) and Karl Kreutz (University of Maine)

This webinar is part of a series supporting teaching with InTeGrate principles, using InTeGrate-developed and curated materials as tools.


Systems thinking can help students analyze complex systems and it is well-suited to teaching about Earth in a societal context. Systems thinking is prevalent across the curriculum, especially with regard to sustainability issues. Lisa Gilbert, Systems Thinking module co-author, will introduce systems thinking, provide an approach to building students' systems thinking skills, and showcase a systems thinking example that can be used in any course. Karl Kreutz, Systems Thinking module co-author, will discuss systems modeling and feedback systems. In addition, he will provide an example of a feedback system using Arctic sea ice. The webinar will include 30 minutes of presentations and 25 minutes of discussion. Participants are encouraged to both ask questions of the presenters and discuss their own experiences regarding systems thinking for their discipline or context.


At the end of this webinar, participants will have:

  • examples of systems thinking assignments to incorporate into your course
  • strategies to help students develop their systems thinking skills
  • greater familiarity with InTeGrate principles and materials
  • new colleagues engaged in this work


Time - 9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET
- 1 hour
Format - Online web presentation via Adobe Connect web conference software with questions and discussion.
Go to the webinar technology page for information on using Adobe Connect.
Detailed instructions for joining the webinar will be emailed to registered participants one day prior to the webinar.

Registration is now closed.

Preparation - There is no advance preparation required for this webinar.

Please email Rory McFadden ( if you have any questions about this event.


Lisa Gilbert, Geoscience and Williams-Mystic, Williams College

Karl Kreutz, School of Earth and Climate Sciences, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine


Fostering Systems Thinking in Your Students (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 12.2MB May30 17)

1) Welcome and introductory remarks - John McDaris, SERC staff

2) Systems Thinking – Lisa Gilbert

  • Prompt: What does systems thinking mean to you?
  • Introduction to systems and systems thinking
  • Using knowledge surveys to assess systems thinking

3) Modeling and feedback in a system – Lisa Gilbert

  • Using systems modeling to contrast conditions that produce equilibrium and non-equilibrium behavior
  • Exploring the effects of negative and positive feedback on system behavior
  • Using systems model to interpret Arctic sea ice data
  • Assessments

4) Systems Thinking in the InTeGrate modules examples:

  • Systems Thinking (entire module)
  • A Growing Concern: Sustaining Soil Resources through Local Decision Making (Unit 5)
  • The Wicked Problem of Global Food Security (Unit 2)
  • Earth's Thermostat (Units 3 and 6)

5) Reflections by participants

  • Prompt: How do you incorporate systems thinking in your course?
6) Questions and synthetic remarks

The convener will reflect on the chat provide a synthetic remark. The chat and final remarks will be discussed further in the InTeGrate discussion thread. This online interest group is aimed at providing you with a platform for continuing discussion and exchanging ideas with your new colleagues about systems thinking, as well as broader InTeGrate principles that will continue to be discussed throughout the webinar series.

6) Opportunities for further interaction – Rory McFadden

7) Webinar Evaluation


Click to watch the webinar screencast (MP4 Video 566.6MB Mar22 17).