Develop a Systems Mindset and discover how everything is interconnected. Systems thinking helps you gain a different perspective of how the world works and overcome reductionist thinking. This foundation course will help you wrap your head around the systems at play and give you the tools you need to understand the complex social, industrial & environmental systems and how they interact. It's a must for anyone wanting to start or build their capacity in understanding systems dynamics, relationships and how to create systems change.


  • Receive the foundations of systems thinking methods, habits, and practices.

  • Understand systems dynamics, especially in terms of feedback loops and systems archetypes.

  • Develop the ability to identify, explore, and map system relationships for interventions, while leveraging flexible and divergent thinking practices.

  • Easily define boundaries and scope; identify archetypes, nodes and feedback loops and employ a variety of systems mapping techniques.


Available for this course

Certificates are issued by the UnSchool (using third party certifier upon successful and demonstrable completion of all course elements. Accredible uses bank-level encryption and blockchain logging to ensure legitimacy and verification, and offers easy to share credentials that you can receive as a downloadable PDF, share on LinkedIn and other digital platforms. Accredible also allows you to control your own data via their credential portal, accessible for free when you receive any certificates or badges.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu

Instructor Bio:

Sustainability provocateur, award-winning designer, 2016 UNEP Champion of the Earth, and creative changemaker pioneer, Dr. Leyla Acaroglu challenges people to think differently about how the world works. As the founder of the UnSchool and creator of the Disruptive Design Method, Leyla weaves together her skills as a designer, sociologist, and social entrepreneur to create highly immersive educative experiences. She is a renowned international expert on systems thinking and sustainability, running workshops around the world and designing activating experiences, gamified toolkits, and unique educational experiences that help equip people with the tools to intervene and change systems to make the status quo obsolete. Sought after for her unique approach to activating positive social change by design, Leyla's main-stage TED talk on sustainability has been viewed over a million times, and she is the author of several handbooks, as well as an op ed contributor for major publications like the New York Times.

Dr. Leyla Acaroglu

UnSchool Founder + Global Change Maker


“Everything around us is designed for better or for worse, so I find learning new methods of looking at the systems, the ways in which design interplays with them, and the potential approaches we can take to design more social and sustainable interventions is empowering. I had a great time at the UnSchool workshop, bouncing ideas of other smart and engaged people”


“The UnSchool really changed my whole mindset and gave me so much energy and confidence to create positive change and self-belief.”

Souad Ghaffari

“The UnSchool has had a profound effect on me, not only by redefining the way in which I view the world but also by altering my reflection upon past experiences”




In this knowledge session, we’ll unpack the theory and framework of Systems Thinking, providing tools for mapping systems and ways to explore and synthesize the world around us from a systems perspective. 

You will learn the methods and approaches needed to understand system dynamics, identify and map relationships and connections, and better understand feedback loops. You’ll discover how everything is interconnected and learn how to identify the three major systems at play in the world around us.

Finally, you’ll explore why easy solutions can often lead to negative impacts elsewhere, and why the easy way out often leads back in. You’ll replace this mainstream reductionist thinking with the framework to actively think and solve in systems. 

As a core part of the Disruptive Design Methodology, this exploration of the Systems Thinking practice lays the foundation for designing systems interventions that affect positive social change. It also helps you develop the foundations of a three-dimensional thinking framework that will feed into any work you do! Let’s dive in! 


  • 01


  • 02

    Part 1: What is Systems Thinking?

    • Read: What is Systems Thinking?

    • Watch: What is Systems Thinking?

    • Read: Developing a Systems Mindset

    • Explore: Introduction to Systems Thinking

    • Watch: Adopting a Systems Mindset

    • Read: Mental Models, Schemas & Heuristics

    • Read: Quick History of Systems Thinkers

    • Explore: Key Systems Thinkers

    • Read: Perspective Shifting

    • Watch: Thinking Differently

    • Activity: Worldview Reflection

    • Watch: Systems Thinker Russell Ackoff explain Systems Thinking

    • Knowledge Check: Systems Thinking

  • 03

    Part 2: Identifying and Exploring Systems

    • Read: About Identifying and Exploring Systems

    • Watch: Identifying and Exploring Systems

    • Read: What Defines A System?

    • Read: Three Key Systems at Play

    • Explore: The 3 Main Systems at Play

    • Activity: 3 Systems at Play Activity

    • Download: Systems at Play Worksheet

    • Watch: Nodes

    • Read: How to Create a Cluster Map

    • Download: Cluster Mapping Instruction Sheets

    • Knowledge Check: Identifying and Exploring Systems

  • 04

    Part 3: Thinking in Systems

    • Read: About Thinking in Systems

    • Watch: Thinking in Systems

    • Read: Tools of a Systems Thinker

    • Watch: Emergence

    • Read: Feedback Loops

    • Read: System Behaviours

    • Activity: System Behavior Worksheets

    • Read: Identifying System Elements

    • Download: Systems Elements Worksheet

    • Activity: Incorporating Systems Thinking

    • Knowledge Check: Thinking in Systems

  • 05

    Part 4: Systems Mapping Techniques

    • Read: Overview of System Mapping Techniques

    • Watch: About Systems Mapping

    • Watch: Systems Mapping Techniques

    • Read: How to do Interconnected Circles Map

    • Download: Interconnected Circles Map Instructions

    • Read: How to do Causal Loop Diagrams

    • Activity: Causal Loop Diagram Activity

    • Download: Causal Loop Diagrams Worksheet

    • Read: Digital Mapping Tools

    • Knowledge Check: Systems Mapping Techniques

  • 06

    Part 5: Systems Dynamics & Archetypes

    • Read: Systems Dynamics

    • Watch: Systems Dynamics & Archetypes

    • Watch: Systems Dynamics

    • Read: Stocks and Flows

    • Read: Accounting for Delays

    • Read: Behaviour Over Times Graphs

    • Activity: Behaviour Over Time Graph Worksheet

    • Watch: Systems Archetypes

    • Read: Systems Archetypes

    • Explore: Systems Archetypes

    • Read: Tragedy of the Commons

    • Explore: Systems Thinking Practices

    • Knowledge Check: Systems Dynamics & Archetypes

  • 07


    • Tying it all together

    • Additional Resources and Links

    • Thank you message from Leyla

  • 08

    Completion Certificate

    • Systems Thinking Questions Final Knowledge Check Quiz

    • Get your certificate of completion!

  • 09

    Next Steps

    • Continue Your Learning Journey!



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