Section 6: Promoting Systemic Change

Everything is Related: Relationality and Post-secondary Institutions as Social Systems

In Section 2, we explored how the process of relationality applies to curriculum development. How does this concept apply to the university as a whole? In an organization like a post-secondary institution, relationality means a recognition of the myriad connections between aspects such as the ancestral lands where the campus is located, university community members, Elders, Chiefs and Council members, local Nations, organizational units, buildings, signage, artworks, governance groups, print and online collections, coffee shops, and much more. Everything that Indigenous and non-Indigenous university community members do as they interact in these complex environments makes a difference (Restoule, 2011).

Systems theory and systems thinking approaches bear strong resemblance to this perspective. Peter Senge (2006) proposes that systems thinking is the fifth discipline in an organization, along with four others that are necessary for an organization to continue learning. According to Senge, the five disciplines are:

  • personal mastery
  • awareness of our own biases and assumptions
  • common understanding of a desired future or vision
  • team learning
  • systems thinking

In this guide, you have been challenged to increase your personal mastery and your awareness of your own biases and assumptions about Indigenization, decolonization, and reconciliation. As you work within your unit and your institution, you can contribute to the development of vision, team learning, and systems thinking that will advance common understanding. The topics that follow offer some ideas for you to consider as you work toward systemic change.


Activity 1: Systems Theory of Organizations (20 minutes)

Time: 20 min

Type: Self-reflection, Group

Watch this short video Systems Theory of Organizations and reflect on how the actions you take as a member of your institution can make a difference beyond the programs and courses you create.


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Pulling Together: A Guide for Curriculum Developers Copyright © 2018 by Asma-na-hi Antoine; Rachel Mason; Roberta Mason; Sophia Palahicky; and Carmen Rodriguez de France is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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