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Systems Thinking: Concepts and Methods

2nd term
0.5 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Course Instructor:
Ligia Paina

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses.


Systems thinking is a holistic approach to analyzing how components of complex systems interact and adapt. Through systems thinking we can understand how societies organize themselves to achieve collective health goals and how different actors contribute to policy outcomes. The practice of systems thinking includes the ability to integrate multiple perspectives and synthesize them into a framework or model that encompasses the various ways in which a system might react to policy choices.

Provides students with an understanding of how to apply systems thinking in public health. Trains students on the fundamentals of systems thinking theory and offers opportunities to apply key methods and approaches to health policy and health questions. Prepares students to ask relevant research questions and apply systems thinking to describe, understand, and anticipate complex behavior. Examines how systems models can be critically appraised and communicated with others so public health policymakers can exercise a greater degree of wisdom and insight.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify characteristics of a system and critically appraise systems models
  2. Identify unintended consequences of public health system changes
  3. Assess strengths and weaknesses of applying the systems approach to public health problems
  4. Use systems diagrams and figures to show how feedback loops might lead to unanticipated consequences
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 40% Participation
  • 60% Quizzes

Instructor Consent:

No consent required