April 19th is the forty-sixth meeting of Systems Thinking Ontario. Please RSVP at Eventbrite.

Pathfinding under Complexity – Toward Sustainability, Health and Well-being

The systems crucial for sustaining human civilization; ecosystems, societies - and life, itself – are self-organizing, holarchic, open systems. The ongoing viability of these complex systems depends on a perpetual channeling and transformation of energy, materials and information in interdependent metabolic patterns across the full spectrum of temporal and spatial scales - from nanoseconds and nanometers to eons and even beyond the Earth's expanse. Today’s economic models and social policies are proving too simplistic and narrowly-conceived for effectively overcoming the emerging challenges that define the Anthropocene. The scale of our resource extraction, energy consumption and environmental disruption and pollution, increasingly threatens the long term stability of supporting natural ecosystems. Social harmony and personal well-being sometimes elude us at the best of times; compounding pressures anticipated from unabated resource depletion, surprising weather extremes and altered ecosystems, will render future economic and social well-being yet more elusive.

David Mallery and Stephano Menegat (PhD candidates from York U and McGill, respectively) invite you to participate in exploring new narratives for successful pathfinding toward sustainable ecosystems, vital economies and healthy lives. Integrating diverse concepts (non-equilibrium thermodynamics, hierarchy theory, autopoiesis, Rosen's relational theory), their work offers a powerful synthesis of tools and frameworks for understanding the space of future possibilities and then discovering the most promising paths forward, together. Using Giampietro and Mayumi’s innovative framework for sustainability assessment: Multi-scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM), David and Stephano challenge traditional resource accounting and offer a robust and rigorous example of post-normal science and integrated analysis.

Join us in an open discussion. Newcomers always welcomed.

In preparation, please review the following notes:



Time Activity Role(s)
6:30 Self-introductions (15 seconds each)
  • Who am I?
  • Which affiliations do I have that might be relevant to systems thinking?
  • How did learn about this Systems Thinking Ontario session?
6:50 Discussion (expanding on the presentation and/or preparatory readings as an entry point)

1. Open Q & A , discussion and sense-making to more fully understand & appreciate David's and Stephano's work.

2a. How could the ideas and approaches offered be improved or rendered more viable, in practice?

2b. Where and by whom could these approaches be applied, in the near-term, for significant impact/outcomes?

    (working in break-out groups, depending on our attendance-level)

David Mallery
Stephano Menegat
7:45 Double loop learning: Revisions in meeting format? Suggestions welcome
8:30 Adjourn - Optionally, join other attendees to continue discussion over dinner and/or drinks at a nearby restaurant
(ideally, one that's quiet, reasonably priced and spacious enough for our continued conversations).
No host

Post-meeting artifacts: