Session 5 Assignment Overview

Dear Colleagues,

This month, and into the next, we are going to shift to a deeper understanding of dynamics in the Lower Right Quadrant. The three common themes here are Energy, Environment, and Economics. The more you stay up to speed on developments in the Energy Transition, post-Peak Oil, Environmental advances and declines, and our Macro-Economic situation, the more capable you will be at helping to make long-term decisions.

The practice of integral sustainability here is that of being able to connect the dots, to see linkages and hidden interactions across multiple domains, and track macro flows. To quote from the famous 1987 Brundtland Report, which laid out a global agenda for sustainability: "These are not separate crises: an environmental crisis, a development crisis, an energy crisis. They are all one."

A core practice for connecting the dots is systems thinking. My sense is that this group has a varying degree of understanding about this topic, so I'm providing some basic and advanced articles as part of the reading list below. The readings address both organizational systems and large-scale systems; it is important to pay attention to and be able to engage at both a meso- (organizational) and macro level regarding systems. I'm providing a sample of articles for you to choose from, so that you can engage the material that is most relevant and interesting to you (i.e., CSR, international development, etc.). We'll dive into the theory initially here, and then, after you get grounded in it, I want you to watch the “Crash Course” by Chris Martensen. This will give you a very big picture view on Energy, Environment, and Economics, and show the key linkages. It may very well rock your world as well…

Best regards,




On Systems Thinking

Basic articles (Choose at least TWO to read):

·         [Super basic] “Overview of systems thinking” by Daniel Aronson

·         “Complexity, systems thinking, and practice: Skills and techniques for managing complex systems” by Dick Morris, Stephen Martin

·         “Dancing with systems” by Donella Meadows

·         “Places to intervene in a system” by Donella Meadows

·         “Navigating towards sustainable development: A system dynamics approach” by Peder Hjorth, Ali Bagheri


Advanced articles (Choose at least TWO to read)

·         “Collaborating for systemic change” by Peter Senge, et al.

·         “The systems sciences in service of humanity” by Alexander Laszlo and Ervin Laszlo

·         “Advancing sustainability through change and innovation: A co-evolutionary perspective” by Suzanne Benn and Ellen Baker

·         “Managerial applications of corporate social responsibility and systems thinking for achieving sustainability outcomes” by Terry B. Porter

·         “A systematic, integrated approach for crafting poverty reduction and sustainable development projects” by Timothy Downs

·         “Evolutionary systems design: A praxis for sustainable development” by Alexander Laszlo (this is the leading edge of systems theory, integrating the development of consciousness into it, by Erwin Laszlo's son, Alexander).

On The Big Picture

·         WATCH: The Crash Course – full version – by Chris Martensen (3 hours) OR see alternative below

·         WATCH: The Crash Course – condensed – by Chris Martensen (45 minutes)

·         WATCH: Gunter Pauli TED talk on ZERI and the Blue Economy -

·         LISTEN: “The Turning, Macro Trends at Play” by John Petersen, interviewed by John Schmidt on Zoom'd Leadership -

·         LISTEN: “Architecture of Transition” by John Petersen, interviewed by John Schmidt on Zoom'd Leadership -



·         Download all the Zoom'd Leadership interviews and begin listening to them. They are all excellent and will drive your learning about macro issues and human development in new dimensions. They are done by a colleague of mine who lead Avastone Consulting, an integrally informed consulting company in the US working with top multinationals.

·         “Systems theories: Their origins, foundations and development” by Alexander Laszlo and Stanley Krippner

·         “Systems thinking simplified” by Lise Krieger

·         Read the Handbook of Sustainability Literacy, chapters available for free here:

Session 5 as a zip file