Systems Thinking and Approaches for International Development

Course Description

We explore the fundamentals of Systems Thinking – an approach gaining widespread support in the international development community for its power to help change-makers understand challenges and make informed decisions. This course will cover the basics of Systems Thinking, including the history of these approaches, and the importance of using them to mitigate bias and address complex problems. Participants will not only learn about the Systems Thinking mindset, but they will also explore diverse Systems Thinking methods, including indicator-based tools, systems mapping, and more.

Course ID: DEF 4541P
Course Format: Classroom

Available Classroom Sections

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CRN Start date End date Format Location Cost
17850 Feb 27, 2018 Feb 28, 2018 Classroom Arlington, Virginia $995

Who Should Attend

Social sector leaders seeking to better understand complex global development challenges, optimize strategic decision making, and maximize impact.

How You Will Benefit

  • Understand how Systems Thinking helps us deal with unstructured, complex scenarios.
  • Learn how to apply Systems Thinking methods.
  • Learn about specific Systems Thinking tools and practice applying them to your work.
  • Appreciate why international development institutions are mandating systems approaches.
  • Explore the Systems Thinking mindset that brings value across diverse systems approaches.


  • Review the history of Systems Thinking.
  • Introduce the fundamental methods and tools of the Systems Thinking mindset.
  • Explore the effects of and how to overcome bias in decision making.
  • Apply Systems Thinking with tool simulations.
  • Use a case study to practice tackling complex global problems.

For Course-Related Questions

Please contact the course administrator: Tom McDermott