This Center is focused on installing biospheric literacy and general systems theory/thinking into educational systems. Biospheric literacy is the understanding of the principles of organization that ecosystems have evolved to sustain the glorious web of life.
1) Real knowledge of complex adaptive systems will be required. The sciences of complex adaptive systems will function as templates for thinking in other arenas. You want member/scholars with competence in these fundamental systems sciences: comparative physiology, geophysics, climate dynamics, earth systems science, biosphere dynamics, and biological evolution. In addition, the Systems Thinking Center should have competence in issues around evolution of technology, the nature of information, emergence of living systems, as well as co-evolution of language and the brain.
2) The Center will also be responsible for advisory activity. The work of the New Alchemy Institute, Farallon Institute, and the Office of Appropriate Technology in the California Governor’s Office in the 1970s, although primitive compared to what would be possible for such institutions now, offer us a model of how teams of architects, biologists, gardeners, energy engineers, water system managers, aquaculturists can join together as design teams and advisory teams to help guide towns, cities, counties to make the changes that they need to make rapidly. We will partner with organizations such as Huey Johnson’s Resource Renewal Institute to learn from their seminal Green Plans work.
3) As the Education arm, this Center will teach people how to use language, framing, rhetoric, use of statistics, use of metaphor, how to get large-scale thinking into short speeches. Via story-telling, teach how to present scientific data, and how to integrate science and values.
4) Perhaps most important for the Center would be a study of geologic time, especially the period(s) of rapid warming, as in the Eocene, where after 10,000 to 15,000 years of gradual cooling there was abrupt warming by several degrees Celsius that took only 10 years. We will learn from Dianne Dumanoski’s important book: The End of the Long Summer: Why We Must Remake Our Civilization to Survive on a Volatile Earth.