Complex Systems Regime Shift – Readings I

For a Complex Systems point of view. Towards sustainability, it is important to understand the dynamics of socio-ecological systems, as complex adaptive systems. An essential aspect of such complex systems is nonlinearity, leading to historical dependency and multiple possible outcomes of dynamics. Regime shifts, the reorganization of the structure and processes shaping a complex adaptive system, are large, abrupt with persistent changes. Regime shifts in socio-ecological systems have large impacts on ecosystem services, and therefore on human well-being, as they can substantially affect the flow of ecosystem services that societies rely upon, such as the provision of food, clean water or climate regulation. Resilience is the ability to absorb disturbances, to be changed and then to re-organise and still have the same identity (retain the same basic structure and ways of functioning). It includes the ability to learn from the disturbance. Resilience shifts attention from purely growth and efficiency to needed recovery and flexibility. Growth and efficiency alone can often lead ecological systems, businesses and societies into fragile rigidities, exposing them to turbulent transformations. The aim of resilience management and governance is to keep the complex system within a particular configuration of states (system ‘regime) that will continue to deliver desired ecosystem goods and services. The adaptive capacity in social systems, the existence of institutions and networks that learn and store knowledge and experience, create flexibility in problem solving and balance power among interest groups, play an important role. Complex systems with high adaptive capacity are able to re-configure themselves without significant declines in crucial functions. A consequence of a loss of resilience, and therefore of adaptive capacity, is loss of opportunity. Resilience is key to enhancing adaptive capacity: learning to live with change and uncertainty; nurturing diversity for resilience; combining different types of knowledge for learning; and creating opportunity for self-organization towards socio-ecological systems sustainability.

This Reading it is not a linear course list, rather for dialogical rhizomatic learning; will be followed by others on related topics. To access the paper, follow the link.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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