Your coursepack begins
with an essay by Joseph Coates discussing the relationship between
futures studies and systems science. Most futures researchers consider
a systems perspective a prerequisite to futures studies -- many
people would argue as well that a systems perspective is a prerequisite
to all scientific research post-1950 (see also Ackoff's presentation,
as summarized by Wardman, in your coursepack). Clearly your faculty
think an acquaintance with the basic concepts and theories is critical,
else this would not be a required class.
With this essay you
should explain what you personally find most meaningful about the
systems perspective with regard to futures studies. What does it
add to the way you observe or analyze the world or, more specifically,
problems or issues with which you are most concerned? How do you
think a systems perspective will enhance the research or projects
you complete in the future?
As a springboard to
begin your discussion, choose one book from the various bibliographies
available on the Web, or one book as approved by your instructor,
and include in your essay examples of concepts, insights, or analyses
it provides that you find interesting and useful, particularly to
futures studies. Obviously you will be best served by choosing a
book that you find intriguing and germane to your own interests.
The book does not have
to be about hard-core systems analysis, or causal loop or flow diagramming,
or computer modelling: it can be a conceptual overview, such as
Capra's The Web of Life, or Laszlo's The Systems View
of the World, or it may be an introduction to chaos or complexity
theories. Confirm with the instructor if you have any doubts. Again,
you are not writing a book report: you are writing an essay
on what you find particularly compelling or useful about the systems
perspective, and citing concepts, insights, or analyses from
your chosen book to strengthen the points you are making.
Length: about 2,000-2,500
words. At a minimum, the paper should describe what is meant by
the systems perspective, give reasons for its use, give some examples
of its use, and describe the benefits of its use.