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Module team

The Open University course team

Course Team Chair of Production

Gillian Rose, Professor of Cultural Geography

Course Team Chair of Presentation

Chris Brook, Senior Lecturer in Geography

External Assessor

Peter Jackson, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sheffield

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References

Dickens, P. (1986) Global Shift: Industrual Change in a Turbulent World, London, Harper Row.
Harrison, A., Britton, T. and Swanson, A. (2004) Working Abroad: The Benefits Flowing from Nationals Working in Other Economies, Paris, OECD.
New Internationalist (2004a), ‘IMF / World Bank: the Facts’, March, no. 365.
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2.1 Learning from video footage

You might think that learning from audio-visual sources is very different from learning from written sources yet, somewhat surprisingly, it is much the same. This section of the unit will help you to think about how you can turn the very familiar, but usually passive, process of watching a video into the active process of learning. Watching the video will involve the skills of engaging with the material and making sense of it for yourself, just as if it were written materials. The advantage o
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1.3 Activity 1

Activity 1

Before you read on, I would like you to dwell for just a moment on the significance of this shift from direct investment by Western firms to the establishment of subcontracting ties with overseas partners. Aside from outside
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1.1 Introduction

Looking back over the 1970s, it is perhaps hard now to appreciate just how dramatic were the changes to the global map of industry taking place at that time. As more and more of the world's industry shifted from the affluent nations to the poorer, less developed countries in search of a cheaper labour force, the global economic map had to be redrawn to take account of the borders crossed and the distances traversed by firms from wealthier countries seeking to generate higher profits by reloca
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2.7 Representing feedback through system dynamics diagrams

System dynamics diagrams, also sometimes called ‘stock flow’ diagrams, can be derived from causal diagrams, although in some cases it might be easier to start directly with the system dynamics diagramming technique, especially if you need to explore around one particular object’s attribute, such as population number.

System dynamics diagrams are drawn using four symbols: boxes representing attributes or ‘stocks’ of objects (e.g. level of water in a tank); valves representing
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2.3 Negative feedback and stability

If positive feedback results in change, then another mechanism must exist that creates stability. This is negative feedback.

What stops water hyacinth from taking over the world? Clearly, it is the lack of tropical freshwater. As the number of water hyacinth reaches the limits of their water body, there is a sudden increase in the death rate as offspring compete for the ever decreasing levels of sunlight. The sudden overcrowding allows the establishment of a negative feed
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2.1 Systems thinking: the first step

The processes of analysis and synthesis in conventional thinking are based on the concept of an object. An object is something that can be clearly distinguished from its environment and can be characterised by its attributes. Attributes enable categorisation schemes that are the basis of our normal thinking. So when you look at a particular ecosystem, for example a pond, you find different animals and plants. And if you look at any ‘book of the pond’ you find each a
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1.2 Readings

In your studies of the learning units so far, you have investigated a range of factors that may lead up to the ‘perfect storm’: a combination of interlinked environmental, social and economic crises. You have also explored your personal ecology, extending this to incorporate quality of life and environmental impact aspects. You have done this using a range of verbal, visual and mathematical models.

You have also become familiar with the fact that our mental models evolve through th
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • use the sign graph diagramming technique to develop and communicate a systemic understanding of complex situations;

  • identify feedback relationships as fundamental controllers within systems and as points of intervention to enact change.


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Introduction

This unit will allow you to extend your visual modelling skills through the use of the sign graph diagramming technique. You will explore the dynamic relationship between social, economic and ecological factors whose interdependencies will determine the complex dynamics of the future as it unfolds. Your final task will be to identify points of intervention within this complex system in order to "nudge" the situation towards a more favourable outcome.

This unit is from our archive and is
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Acknowledgements

Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:

Except for third party materials and otherwise stated (see terms and conditions), this content is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence

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References

Alexander, G. (2002) eGaia: Growing a Peaceful, Sustainable Earth through Communications, Florida, Lighthouse Books.
Allinson, C.W. and Hayes, J. (1996) ‘The cognitive style index: a measure of intuition-analysis for org
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Glossary

Click on the link below to open the unit glossary.

Open glossary now...


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3.3 Estimating your personal ecological footprint

In this activity the aim is to begin to engage in mathematical modelling by quantifying your ecological impact. The transition between qualitative quality of life indicators and quantitative ecological footprinting also requires a shift from visual and verbal modelling to mathematical model
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3.2 Exploring your quality of life

In this activity the aim is to develop and use a range of interdisciplinary indicators that describe your quality of life.

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3.1 Exploring your personal ecology

One of the simplest techniques one can use when investigating a complex situation using a systems approach is to jump between organisational, spatial and temporal scales and explore the relationships between these scales. In this activity the aim is to develop a Author(s): The Open University

2.4 Limits to growth

In April 1968 a group of thirty people from ten countries gathered in Rome. From this meeting grew the ‘Club of Rome’, a loose association of people of twenty-five nationalities all united by their belief that mankind faced major problems which were of such complexity that traditional institutions and policies were not capable of dealing with them. They commissioned a study which was eventually published in 1972 entitled The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al., 1972). This initiative
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2.3 Threats to the living planet

An idea, a relationship, can go extinct, just like an animal or plant. The idea in this case is ‘nature’, the separate and wild province, the world apart from man to which he adapted, under whose rules he was born and die
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4.3 Chain growth polymerization

Chain growth polymerization is basically a three-stage process, involving initiation of active molecules, their propagation and termination of the active chain ends.


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