Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
Eastern Michigan University
New Science Building
    Geography & Geology Department
    205 Strong Hall
    Eastern Michigan University
    Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197
    (734) 487-0218

Systems Thinking Forum

November 11, 2011
Eastern Michigan University
“…systems thinking is based on the fundamental shift of perception from the world as a machine to the world as a living system.” ----Fritjof Capra

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.--- Albert Einstein

Who: EMU faculty
What: A forum on systems thinking
Why: To examine how systems thinking can be incorporated into the classroom and moves us toward interdisciplinary education in the twenty-first century.
When: November 11, 2011,

8:30AM Registration, continental breakfast

9 AM – 5PM, a healthy continental breakfast and lunch included
Where: Eastern Michigan University, Halle Library


November 1 Update

The forum is getting close!

Please be aware that the Keynote session (10AM-12:15PM) is open to the public. It will be held in Halle Auditorium (lower level). Students are invited. If you need that "extra credit assignment," this could be it.


Chef Tom has prepared an excellent menu, featuring local foods from Michigan. He says:

The Meals we are serving for today's conference was hand selected by the Chef to provide not only Nutritious food but Healthy and Local. No added ingredients which would take away from the wholesomeness or hurt the integrity of the product. Remember Fresh is always best.


We have three excellent EMU faculty on our panel. Each uses Systems Thinking in her discipline or her own work, and will discuss how systems enters their classroom.

Rebecca Martusewicz, Ed.D. has been a teacher educator at Eastern Michigan University since 1988.  She uses systems theory to teach courses in EcoJustice Education a concentration of the MA in Social Foundations, as well as at the undergraduate teacher certification level. She is one of the founders and former Director of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition, an externally funded teacher professional development organization.  She is editor and co-founder of The EcoJustice Review: Educating for the Commons, an internationally juried online journal, and Educational Studies: Journal of AESA.   She is co-author of EcoJustice Education: Toward Diverse, Democratic and Sustainable Communities, with Jeff Edmundson and John Lupinacci (Routledge 2011), and  Seeking Passage: PostStructuralism, Pedagogy, Ethics (Teachers College Press 2001), both winners of the AESA Critics Choice Award.


Marti Bombyk is a Professor of Social Work and has taught at EMU for 15 years. She earned a joint PhD in Social Work and Psychology at the University of Michigan. Marti teaches courses on social work practice with organizations, communities, and social welfare policy. Among other service activities, she has volunteered as the Neighborhood Association Organizer for the City of Ypsilanti for the past 11 years.


Chris Foreman, PhD (University of Kentucky). Dr. Foreman's research explores the communicative nature of organizations at a macro level. Her interest is in better understanding the complexities of communication as both an input process and output process, making systems thinking a particularly compelling theoretical standpoint. She has been a faculty member at EMU since 1994, and currently serves as the Director of EMU's General Program Program.


October 19

I am pleased to announce that the forum is fully subscribed. We are accepting waitlist names if you have interest but were unable to answer quickly.

We are though, offering to open up the Keynote speaker session and the first breakout session to all who are interested (9:30AM-12:15PM). the session will be held in Halle Library auditorium (lower level). It will be first come first served. This is an excellent opportunity for that extra credit that students are always seeking or an opportunity for students to examine some of the movements that are currently happening in inter-disciplinary education. If you have questions or prefer a reservation please email cmayda@emich.edu


Tentative Schedule

8:30AM registration opens, continental breakfast available
9AM Welcome and Introduction to Systems, What is systems thinking at the university?
9:30-10 AM Panel discussion on incorporating systems in the curriculum
10:00-11:30AM Keynote speaker: Thomas Princen, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources
11:30AM- 12:15PM first break out session (in auditorium) Ethan Lowenstein
12:15-1PM lunch
1-1:45 PM breakout session [2] use Carillon room, 302, 320, FDC (Halle 109)
1:45-2 break
2-2:45PM breakout session [3] use Carillon room, 302, 320, FDC
2:45-3 break
3-3:45PM Break out session [4] use Carillon room, 302, 320, FDC
3:45-4 PM break
4-5 Concluding session Carillon room or auditorium

A healthy continental breakfast will be served to registered participants.
Introduction: a brief introduction to systems thinking teaching including mental models, vision, team learning, and complex over linear thought.
Panel Discussion: 4 faculty will briefly discuss the answer to a question about how their teaching style has been affected by systems thinking.
Keynote speaker: There will be an opening performance by 2 actors adopted from Tom Princen’s Treading Softly book. This will be followed by his address on the principles and benefits of systems thinking.  (This session and the first breakout session will be in the auditorium and open to the public)
First breakout session: a visioning session with Ethan Lowenstein
A delicious and healthy local style lunch chosen by EMU’s Chef Thomas Murray

Breakout sessions:
Four presenters will each feature mental exercises and interactive participation that support their particular take on systems thinking.  Participants are encouraged to attend 3 of the four sessions during the afternoon.
The presenters will be:
Rebecca Martusewicz (Teacher education)
Dawn Pearcy (Business)
Dan Bonenberger (Historical Preservation)
Chris Mayda (Geography and Sustainability)



Original announcement

The rapidly changing world we live in has led many to question how we teach and learn. Standard teaching patterns may not be the most appropriate for today’s students. Our students have grown up in an interconnected world that differs from most faculty experience. Video games, internet, linked in, social networking— operate with high degrees of interconnectedness that many faculty struggle to understand. Students are living in a world that is more related to systems than disciplines, and yet teaching methods have varied little, and students have difficulty relating to traditional methods of education. Another method to stimulate students--to move faculty out of silos, to reach beyond the blinder education of disciplines, to connect on positive levels--- is the world of systems thinking.

The systems thinking format continues our quest to “study” and “practice constantly” the equivalent meaning of the Chinese language characters for “learning.”  Systems thinking embraces the idea of moving from the reductionist and fragmented model of the modern past and into a holistic view of the world that operates as a living system, ecologically.

Systems thinking recognizes the ecological destruction the current pattern of thought has brought to the world and seeks to address long-term solutions, not short-term Band Aid fixes. Systems thinking is a path toward a more ecologically sustainable society that lives within Earth’s limits.

On November 11, 2011 the first systems thinking forum will be held at EMU. It is a full day event providing camaraderie, sharing of vision, good healthy food, and education into the world of systems thinking and how to incorporate these ideas in the classroom and across the curriculum. 

The forum “Inter-professional systems thinking in an ecological age,” is a step into the interdisciplinary future where faculty work together to learn and evolve into a learning community.  The event is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences but your leaders will be from several EMU schools. We encourage registrants from every school.

Contact Barbara Hopkins bhopkins@emich.edu to register.

There are only a total of 40 spaces available for this first time event.
Thank you.