CSPH 5121 - Whole Systems Healing: Health and the Environment

This is traditionally a blended course. Course will meet primarily online, but will have required in person dates. Check the class search for in person meeting dates and times.

Course Description:

Our personal health, along with the health of the human social systems we inhabit, are inextricably entwined with the wellbeing of local and global environmental systems. Living systems (including social, biological, and environmental) are complex adaptive systems that are self-organizing and give rise to emergent properties within a wider “ecosystemic” context. To effect beneficial and sustainable changes within such systems, leaders must apply (and embody) ecosystemic principles. This course will help students learn how to understand—and to effect sustainable change in—the complex systems in their lives: personal, social, and environmental. Students will explore and develop leadership strategies and skills, using complexity theory as a theoretical framework.

We are facing a multifaceted global/planetary crisis. The evidence is clear that Global Climate Change is primarily driven by human behaviors. Drawing upon the new science of Complex Systems, it is also evident that human social systems (economic, political, and cultural) are impelling us towards a planetary “bifurcation point.” Our only hope to avoid multiple systems collapse is to make deep changes in these systems. Rigid, top-down approaches based on linear and mechanistic paradigms are ill-suited to transformative leadership, which facilitates an open-ended process of organic change. This course helps students develop transformative leadership capacities that are applicable within all types of organizations, within a wide variety of roles and positions.

Course Objectives:

  • Students who successfully complete this course will:
    • Apply complexity theory as a theoretical framework, explore global changes and ecological trends in the following human/environmental interfaces:
      • food production and quality;
      • humans and plants, animals, insects, fungi, and micro-organisms;
      • energy and natural resources use;
      • soil, air, and water quality;
      • exposure to industrial products and by-products;
      • population growth, urbanization, and land/sea use.
    • Identify the structural components of various human and natural systems through case study methods, direct observation, and deep reflection;
    • Utilize a combination of analysis and synthesis to describe the complex dynamics within such systems;
    • Discuss and develop strategies for optimizing the healthy functioning of systems using the group processes of online and in-person dialogue;
    • Compare and contrast the observed or likely outcomes of the application of such strategies, applying ethical concepts and the concept of gentle action in the critique process;
    • Evaluate the efficacy of various strategies and especially combinations of strategies.

What Students Are Saying

“John Miller's Whole Systems Healing class was especially meaningful and impactful to me as it covered deep and insightful readings about an important and urgent subject matter. All topped off with some great class discussion.” --CSPH 5121 student

Course Details

Course ID: 
CSPH 5121
Graduate Students, Undergraduate students with junior status or above, or instructor consent.
Semesters Course Offered: 
Course Flyer: 
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