Systems thinking seeks solutions to challenging social, environmental, economic and public policy problem-areas facing humankind. Among problem-areas RC4 students may study are sustainable development, addiction, crime, economic cycles, conflict-development-linkages, cities growth and decline, spread of infections diseases, global development and many more. According to best-selling author, MIT Senior Fellow, Peter Senge, systems thinking offers theories and new vantage points that deepen our understanding of how such complex problems may be produced by interdependent phenomena that seem distant in time and space.
Mastery of systems thinking concepts represents an important, valuable first step on the path towards understanding the challenging problems humankind faces. However most leading scholar-practitioners in the field, especially including the creator of system dynamics modeling, MIT Professor Jay W. Forrester, believe it is only a first step.
Gaining some mastery of system dynamics modeling is a vitally important second step. John Sterman, who holds the J.W. Forrester Chair at MIT's Sloan School of Management, explains why. In his foundational text, Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, Sterman writes: "The challenge facing us all is how to move from generalizing about accelerating learning and systems thinking to tools and processes that help us to understand complexity, design better operating policies and guide change in systems from the smallest business to the planet as a whole. We are all passengers on an aircraft we must not only fly but redesign in flight. Just as an airline uses flight simulators to help pilots learn."