933310 System analysis and scenario technique - methods and practises

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Manderscheid, Maximilian , Hartmann, Hendrik , Diez Sanjuan, Lucia
Offered in
Wintersemester 2023/24
Languages of instruction


**Given exceptional circumstances, this course will follow an intensive format in the WS2023/24, taking place mostly between October and December 2023. To adapt to these conditions, we will suggest a new topic for the group project in which we will use systems thinking to reflect about the role and potential contribution of the university in a sustainable transformation of food and agricultural systems. Details will be discussed and agreed with the students at the beginning of the course. We look forward for your participation!**

This seminar introduces students to the key concepts and tools of systems theory as both a worldview and as an approach to learning and problem solving. The context for this seminar is organic agri-food systems, specifically their on-going need to adapt to and change with their environment including the dominant conventional agri-food systems.

We approach this subject by applying systems theory to a real world problematic situation in collaboration with organisations in the organic agri-food system. Through interviews and other qualitative social science methods the specific problematic situation will be described and analysed by teams of up to 5 students using key systems tools and possible solutions explored using scenario techniques.

A close collaboration with the partner organisations helps to strengthen students’ real world knowledge and interaction with organic. Collaboration partners are viewed as the targets of our research, and will receive the written project reports and attend the final project presentation.

Each student must read the required readings and attend the classes/ provide a valid reason for not attending.

The block course will consist of presentations by the lecturers, individual and group work, and group and plenary discussions covering the concepts and methods for working systemically.

The remaining seminars will be used for group work, updating the class on the status of the project, discussions and feedback.

Finally, there will be presentations of the team project for the seminar, collaborating institutions and interested guests. Each team will briefly introduce their project to the plenary, and present a poster. There will be time after the presentations for discussions and questions in the style of a conference poster session.

Previous knowledge expected

Some knowledge of organic agri-food systems is expected.
Experience of working in a team is beneficial.
No prior knowledge of systems thinking / research is necessary.
The official language of the course is English.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Organic agriculture is undergoing rapid and complex changes. Many things are uncertain about the future of organic agri-food systems. Considering the relationships and dynamics of the system can give us an insight into system goals and trajectories, undercover hidden traps, solve problematic situations and identify opportunities.

This course is an introduction to thinking and working systemically with organic agri-food systems. It will introduce key systems concepts and practical tools used for systems work. The course encourages the practical application of systems thinking to create more sustainable and resilient agri-food systems.

The aim of this course is to create communities of practice, which help students to use systems thinking conceptually and in practice. It seeks to challenge reductionism and disciplinary / institutional isolation, and to create new knowledge and practices for real world situations.

Learning outcomes:
A student with the requisite understanding and standard of work to pass the course will:
Understand some of the key concepts of systems theory.
Be confident in the use of key systems methods for research and practice.
Work productively and effectively independently and as part of a team.
Be able to present research in a clear and appropriate manner tailored to the specific audience.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.