Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes for this unit are to:

  • Develop an understanding of the current evidence for global warming.

  • Model and apply the techniques of ‘measuring’ the Earth's temperature.

  • Understand the current warming in relation to climate changes throughout the Earth's history.

  • Explain factors forcing climate change, and the extent of anthropogenic influence.

  • Assess the ‘best predictions’ of current climate model
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2 Setting priorities

Activity 3

4.1 Types of projects

Formal projects are a familiar part of nearly all work situations and are often a staple part of some organisations. Because of this it is worth looking at some of the features of formal projects and their management, as they have some different characteristics from other ongoing activities.

To write about projects, we have to define what they are and describe how they arise. Projects and project work are often contrasted with process: ‘process’, in this sense, describes the normal
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4.1 Beginnings

Systems engineering has its roots in three linked strands of thinking: the concepts of systems science, engineering and public policy problem resolution. The first of these can be traced back to the work of von Bertalanffy (1968, pp. 8–15, 96–98) and others during the 1920s and 1930s but received a significant impetus when, in 1954, the Society for General Systems Theory was established at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The society later cha
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3.1 Introduction

I wonder if you experience complexity in your daily life? For much of the time I struggle to keep my head above water as I try to understand and manage the complexity I experience as part of everyday life. I find social commentator and cartoonist Michael Leunig's depiction of a solitary figure looking through an ‘understandascope’ (Author(s): The Open University

2.4 Review

In working through this section, you have identified some of your initial expectations and I have explained some of what I think you will discover as you work through the unit. It would be appropriate at this point to look at some of the questions I asked you about your expectations again and note ways your expectations have changed.

Spend a total of around 30 minutes on the next three activities.

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2.3 Appreciating epistemological issues

Common sense tells me my experience and understanding of the world are limited. I am 173 cm in height. That limits my view of the world. It may not matter much that I cannot see what my house looks like from above but it does mean there will be things going on in the roof I may not notice until they impinge on areas that I can experience.

More significantly, there is a real limitation on understanding the experiences of other people. You might tell me about your experience but your desc
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2.2 Taking responsibility for your own learning

Not much of this unit conforms to the traditional pattern I mentioned earlier – the theory-example-exercise pattern. In particular, you will find you are expected to discover much of it for yourself. Why is this? This is a legitimate question and deserves a full answer. One year, a student at a residential summer school complained I had not taught him properly. I was, he told me, an expert and so why did I not demonstrate how to tackle the problem he was working on and pass my expertise on
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2.1 The nature of systems thinking and systems practice

There are no simple definitions for either systems thinking or systems practice. It's difficult to find definitions that capture all the perspectives that the ideas carry for people who think of themselves as systems thinkers and systems practitioners. Most systems practitioners seem to experience the same kind of difficulty in explaining what they do or what it means to be systemic in their thinking. Through experience I've developed some criteria by which I characterize systems thinking, bu
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1.1.1 Learning by experience

It's a familiar idea but it implies two activities: learning and experiencing. Both activities need to happen if I am to say that learning from experience has happened. Experiencing seems to have two components. The first is the quality of attention that allows me to notice the experience and its components. The second is memory. Calling experience to mind allows me to examine the experience and to think about it in ways that were not possible at the time. Learning is what I take away from th
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1.1 Thinking about expectations

Anticipations and preconceptions are an important determinant of how people learn, so before you read on, I would like you to record some of what you are experiencing now as you begin the unit.

It's important to get these impressions noted down now, because new ideas and new impressions will quickly overlay the experience. What you are experiencing now will be re-interpreted as new understandings emerge. You are also likely to form some judgements about your expectations. So before any
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Introduction

When you meet with a situation you experience as complex you need to think about yourself in relation to the process of formulating a system of interest. Only with this awareness, can you increase your range of purposeful actions in the situation which are ethically defensible. To do so is the hallmark of systemic thinking and practice compared to systematic thinking and practice. The metaphor of the systems practitioner as a juggler of four balls is introduced as a device to explore skill de
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5.13 The final Act

In Act 3, Dan and Ned are back in Ned's flat and Ned is showing extreme signs of neurosis and paranoia. Dan can no longer bear Ned's rather dark and erratic behaviour, and he grabs the conversation by suddenly pouring out all the overwhelmingly negative aspects of his life as a dentist, father and lover. Some people might say that ethics is about how to live a ‘good’ life and, clearly, Dan needs a change. He recognises he is not leading a ‘good’ life. He knows all the things that are
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5.12 Interests

There is quite a lot to be said about the play, but in this unit I need to be selective. In the conversations that take place, one of the things that happens is that all sorts of interests unfold. There is a catalogue of benefits that could each potentially accrue to a long list of individuals and groups. We have the government that could gain benefits through ownership which would allow it to develop the device, understand threats, prevent development, protect the indigenous industry and ret
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5.11 Promises

Having tried various devices to persuade Ned, Ros resorts to her other ‘technical’ approach. She reminds him of his employment contract, which requires him to do his best to exploit his work. A contract, of course, is a form of promise you endorse when you sign it. Signing the contract is performative, it changes the relationships. In this case, it clearly is a promise, it is a promise to do his ‘best’, and that is clearly an ethical matter. This move obviously has a strong influence
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5.10 Conscience

Ned responds with the use of another ethical concept. He feels what he is proposing is ‘right’, regardless of any relationships at play, and he refers to his ‘conscience’. This is perhaps a way of saying, firstly, that he feels very strongly that he is right and, secondly, that any speculation about signing away the IP gives him a great deal of discomfort. This appeal to a ‘conscience’ is an interesting rhetorical move because it neither requires nor provides any reasoned justific
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5.9 Ethical reasoning

Now Ned's got three things. He's got the money that is presumably ‘good’. He's got his defence policy, which he thinks is ‘good’. Ros then introduces the well-being of the community. They are all ‘goods’ but each pulls in a different direction. Any judgement that Ned makes has to be based on an aggregation of these things. But, of course, these are quite different kinds of things, they are incommensurate, so adding up these things is not a straightforward proposition. Ros is hopin
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5.8 Rights

At the beginning of Act 2, Ned is quite explicit about not wanting to bargain over money. It is very clear he is bargaining over his right to control who uses what he sees as his technology, and his rights, he believes, will enable him to keep his weapon out of the hands of administrations that he does not really trust. So, at the centre of all this are the rights that appear to provide the means for Ned to control the distribution of devices embodying his idea, and that will allow him to pre
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5.7 The story so far

In Act 1 of Landscape with Weapon, Dan, the dentist, has been disturbed by the defence project that his brother is working on. Dan, however, is a fairly mercenary individual, so he feels that having had the idea, Ned should aim for a good return. The company is keen to exploit Ned's work, but Ned has resisted handing over the IP for his invention because he wants to control who gets access to the weapon system that his work has enabled.

In this Act Ned says weapons are empirical,
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5.6 Identification

We end Act 1 with a clear understanding that it is actually too late for Ned to pull out, even if he wanted to: the weapon has been designed. If he were concerned about the military technology, he should really have worried about that before he took on the job. But he does not, at the end of Act 1, want to pull out. He clearly wants to see the project through. Materialising this idea is what he lives for, and he says this is at the cutting edge, this is where technology is. These ideas are go
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