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Opinion: If We Want to Solve Complex Social and Environmental Problems, We Need to Think in Terms of Systems

Understanding how various parts of our world connect will help us shape solutions that don’t just create more challenges

Most of us are taught, from a young age, that in order to solve a problem, we simply need to break it down to its core components and solve for x. We learn science experiments that have an aim, method and outcome, a linear process from problem to solution. We are socialized to respond to reward and punishment and, by the time we have graduated from 15 to 20-plus years of institutionalized education, we have trained our brains to think in clear, ordered and, yes, very linear ways.

The problem with this is that the world is not linear. While life may be marked by a start and an end, it is most certainly not a straight ordered line; it is a chaotic mess of experiences that make and define our understanding of the world.

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