I was prompted to consider Systems Thinking on my Creative Climate Leadership course, and also on reading lots of articles by Daniel Christian Wahl, such as this on why we need to think more systemically. I wanted to make an attempt at a Systems Thinking model to analyse the possible functions and emerging responses of the cultural sector (arts, design, museums and heritage) to the climate emergency and related ecological and social crises (including pollution and ill-health, biodiversity loss, resource insecurity, conflict, social injustice and migration).
For illustration, this is a classic Systems Thinking ‘iceberg’ (image by Tim Paul) which shows how the most potential for leveraging change is at a deep system level of mental frames and culture.
I think that interventions that operate at the deepest level of transformation of mental models would work best when they also:
- design changes to underlying structures,
- anticipate trends in order to alter behaviours and
- surface some evidence, showing relevance to specific contexts or events.
I have tried to place the types of cultural response in a hierarchy but I am struggling to see how it can work. What I’m realising is that arts and culture tend to be more holistic than other modes of response (e.g. diet changes, or energy systems), operating at all levels of the iceberg, because they deal with material and lived experience in a way that exposes and shifts deeper structures and mindsets. However, they don’t tend to do this in a highly systematic or designed way, where impacts can be clearly visualised and measured. So, it’s hard to clearly show where any type of response sits in that pyramid, and hard to prove exactly how the arts and culture have impact.
Please go to the Google document to comment (using comment function) to suggest any type that I’ve missed, or if you have any insights into how these can be analysed systemically, or evaluated for impact. Also, if you have any more examples to illustrate each of the types. Here also is a PDF version for download
And pasted below are screenshots from this…