Introduction: Axial Themes United in Space and Time

Part of the Contemporary Systems Thinking book series (CST)


The global age is systemic and digital. It is undeniable that it has implications for the way we educate future practitioners in the human services. We need a different kind of education, because although as caterpillars we have potential, it needs to be expanded through the journey of learning from one another. It is not about ’merely making caterpillars go faster, when what we need are butterflies (Banathy 1991 in Norum 2001: 330). We get butterflies by examining and challenging’ how people think, what they believe, and how they see the world’ (Senge, 1999in Norum 331). Designing for the future requires an ability to think creatively and reflexively and to operate in terms of systems, not compartments. This has implications for organisational management, governance, as well as social and environmental policy. Communication styles need to be open and flexible so as to represent and take into account multiple meanings. This requires going beyond an interest in socio-technical systems (Jackson 1991). It requires asking not only about what tasks we choose to undertake or how we undertake the process, but also our rationale for an approach (Flood and Romm 1996). Critical questioning enables us ’to unfold’ the meanings of multiple stakeholders and to ‘sweep in’ a range of issues and implications that could be relevant for problem solving and without this process could remain either invisible or devalued (Goff 2002, personal communication).


Indigenous People Critical Thinking Alcohol Misuse Participatory Action Research Environmental Justice 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Flinders Institute of Public Policy and ManagementFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia

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