ENVS 4523.03
Systems Thinking in 
Environmental Studies 

Welcome to ENVS 4523, a course in Systems Thinking in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. This course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.  For now graduate students may enroll in the course directly.  A graduate number for the course is forthcoming.

Course:  ES/ENVS 4523 3.0 Systems Thinking in Environmental Studies: Theory and Methodologies

Calendar Description

This course addresses fundamentals of general and complex systems thinking (such as general systems theory, complex adaptive systems, chaos theory) major paradigms in systems thinking (functionalist, interpretive, emancipatory, postmodern), and their associated methodologies and applications in environmental studies.

 Prerequisite: Fourth year standing or by permission of the instructor. Students with Third year standing may have access subject to space availability and approval from the Faculty.

 Purpose and Outcomes of the Course

  The purpose of this course is to consolidate many of the broad ideas and concepts related to interdisciplinarity, holism, interconnectedness, and complexity to which environmental studies students will have been exposed, and to provide a set of cognitive and practical tools that will allow students to address environmental problems.

Learning outcomes

  1. The ability to articulate a range of systems thinking concepts and theories such as general systems theory and complex systems theory
  2. The ability to apply systems concepts to observations of the world
  3. The ability to express the relationship of systems epistemology to problem solving methods and frameworks (such as the ecosystem approach) in environmental studies
  4. The ability to apply at least one systems-based method to an environmental problem.

 Organization of the Course

The course involves a combination of formal lectures by the Course Director, seminar style discussions, material presented by students in the course, and in class systems thinking exercises and short reflection papers.

For more information please contact Professor Bunch (see below)


Course Director 
Martin J. Bunch, PhD
Professor in Environmental Studies 
York University 
4700 Keele Street 
Toronto, ON, Canada 
M3J 1P3 




Health, Nursing and Environmental Studies Building 
Room 222 

416.736.2100 ext:22630 




Copyright 2007-2015 Martin J. Bunch. All rights reserved. Revised: 29 June 2015 by MJB