Essays from Systems Thinking for Sustainable Communities course

Finally we have got a space where we can post what we do in CS, and I thought it would be nice to share the essays we wrote during the Systems Thinking for Sustainable Communities, which was taught by Gary Metcalf and Katri Pulkkinen in fall 2012.

It was the first graduate course on Systems Thinking in which some of the main concepts of systems theories were introduced. In addition to theoretical concepts, the second part of the course was focused more on examples supporting them. Working in interdisciplinary groups, we in Creative Sustainability researched five of the urban intervention movements organized in Helsinki: We Love Helsinki, Kalasatama area, Kuinoma-service, Restaurant Day and Dodo’s urban farming movement. They were studied as systems that both affect and learn from their environments.

Individual essays were the final outcome of the group research, describing each urban movement with a specific aspect of its system in mind. As a result, the collection of essays represented quite different viewpoints on the same activities. For example, there were six essays discussing the Restaurant Day movement ( Each essay touched in some point or the other the question of how the event might transform itself in the future and what will happen with its initial idea of rebelling against overly strict hygiene regulations by giving an opportunity for ordinary people to test their new restaurant concepts with a spirit of community engagement.

Restaurant Day in our systems-analysis

The ideas for development and transformation of the Restaurant Day as a system ranged among cultural adaptation, commercialization, loss of novelty, possibility of social conflict, outbreak of infectious disease and larger changes within legislation and social organization. In fact, thinking about the Restaurant Day as a sub-system existing within a larger social system and interacting with other activities and social groups opened up a variation of possible changes within it.

Seeing the variety of thoughts initiated by the research task for the Systems Thinking course brings us to understanding one of the main values of the graduate courses within the CS Master’s programme – adaptation of a holistic approach through working in interdisciplinary teams. Working in teams on a variety of projects not only increases understanding of various opinions, but also gives a chance to discover unknown arguments and share ideas. In addition to that, analytical and systems thinking skills bring opportunities for critical problem solving of the complex social problems.

The original articles can be found at

Posted by Julia Bushueva
6 years ago