“Sustainable development: You have to put back. It's like anything in life - if you just keep taking then eventually there will be nothing left.” - Garry Greenland (organic supplier)

Aquinas College

Whole System Thinking


Whole System Thinking involves the preferences for looking at systems holistically in order to solve problems, rather than isolated from the system. When entire systems are examined rather than individual parts, the overall effectiveness of the process, business, or organization improves dramatically. One small change often solves multiple problems and creates an increase in efficiency and business performance. The incorporation of this philosophy into a business operation increase its effectiveness, resulting in a decrease in costs and a strong competitive advantage.


"Systems Thinking - Critical to Sustainability Education"- The California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES)

The goal of CERES is to improve environmental analysis and planning by integrating natural and cultural resource information from multiple contributors and by making it available and useful to a wide variety of users. The site contains an article that explains the basic tenants of and the need for the incorporation of whole systems thinking into education.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

The RMI organization has been a longtime advocate for energy efficiency and the environment. Their web site offers great information on numerous sustainability issues, such as transportation and communities, as well as discussion groups and other resources. This particular link contains an introduction to whole systems thinking.

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo courtesy of The Environmental Protection Agency
Site by CMC/GrandNet