November 13 (the second Monday of the month) is the 116th meeting for Systems Thinking Ontario. Attendees on the e-mail list will receive directions on direct registration on Zoom.  Casual participants will see the Zoom link revealed after registering at https://historical-synthesis.eventbrite.ca 

What Systems Thinkers Can Learn From Historical Synthesis

Analysis reveals structure. Synthesis reveals understanding.” – a marquee distillation of systems thinking, by one its luminaries, Russel Ackoff.

If synthesis - the act of putting things together - is an essential part of systems thinking, then what could systems thinkers learn from the mode of “historical synthesis”? This session will examine this question through conversation with historian Dr Michael Bonner.

Historical synthesis is the convergence of multiple stories and sources into a narrative story. This lens of not only viewing history but assembling it into a narrative whole may offer insights for practitioners of systems thinking. The connection may be especially pronounced in systemic design, where “narratives” are a central feature that emerge through designing artifacts such as synthesis maps or gigamaps.

In a question and answer format, Zaid Khan will engage Dr Bonner in conversation, while David Ing will moderate the session.

Speaker Bio:

Dr Michael Bonner is a Canadian political consultant and historian of Iran. He studied classical and oriental languages in undergrad, and took a master’s degree and doctorate in Iranian history from the University of Oxford. He has advised members of Cabinet in both federal and provincial Canadian governments, and now works for the firm Atlas Strategic Advisors. He lives in Port Perry with his family.

Michael Bonner is a rare bird: he is a classicist and an erudite in the broadest sense of the word, familiar with Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew, not counting (I checked) modern languages such as French. This gives him a considerable edge over historians, and depth and perspective in identifying and understanding the true Western Civilization and the dangers of straying from its achievements over the past six thousand years.” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Suggested Pre-Reading / Watchings:



Post-meeting artifacts

Map of “The Sassanid Empire c. 620 CE” CC-BY-NC-SA 2023 Simeon Neetchev https://www.worldhistory.org/image/16853/the-sassanid-empire-c-620-ce/