Friday, December 13, 2019

On Monday, December 9, the Centre for Peace Advancement helped kick off Kindred Credit Union’s 12 Days 4 Good social media campaign for 2019. 12 Days 4 Good is engaging partners across Waterloo Region by having each of them to designate a day for an act of good that aligns with one of the central themes of this year’s campaign: affordable housing, climate action, or food security.

The Centre for Peace Advancement team chose to focus on climate action at the University of Waterloo, and brought a systems-thinking lens to our act of good by drawing on our experience working with students on the Map the System competition.  

Centre for Peace Advancement team walkling to St. Paul's GreenHouse
Throughout a three hour block of time on Monday morning, a team of Centre for Peace Advancement participants spent some time defining the challenge of climate change in our context, and then engaged in some external research through conversations with different stakeholders in our community. We heard from Tania Del Matto, the Director of GreenHouse, about the impact of adapting climate action efforts to the needs of the community.

Our second expert of the day was Kate Pearce, Waterloo Global Science Initiative’s Community Relations Manager. Kate shared with us her tools and methods for engaging the public in conversations about climate change, and how sharing perspectives is important for community growth and activism.

Lastly, we heard from Conrad Grebel University College’s Director of Operations Paul Penner and Dean Troy Osborne. Paul and Troy discussed how climate action proposals are being prioritized as Grebel embarks on a new strategic planning process, and the importance of encouraging students, faculty, and staff to spearhead initiatives of their own.

12 Days 4 Good Systems Map
With lots of information on our hands, the Centre of Peace Advancement team concluded our morning by highlighting some key insights. Drawing connections between our discussion of the climate change adaptation needs in our community, the key role that students play in driving institutional change, and the challenge of motivating meaningful climate action, we identified several barriers and opportunities to explore further.

Our goal—and act of good—in beginning to map the system of climate action at the University of Waterloo was to inspire others to pursue change at a systemic level. Although it takes more than a few hours, systems thinking tools enable communities to not only understand complex and nuanced problems in new ways, but to identify actionable steps they can take to make a positive impact on these challenges.

If you are interested in applying systems thinking to a complex problem of your own, consider competing in Map the System!