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The Making of a Regenerative Paradigm: A collection of experimental diagrams

Format: Papers, RSD12, RSD12 Papers Pre-release

Perin Ruttonsha
Since the mid twentieth century, we have been undergoing a period of intentional, collective redefinition and renewal. Sustainability has been challenging the status quo of colonised, modernised, industrialised, and capitalised systems; meanwhile, complex systems thinking has been carving out new approaches for research and innovation, based on the study of nonlinear, reflexive, self-organising, emergent, and chaotic systems behaviours. Together, this shift comprises a regenerative sustainability paradigm, as defined by this paper.

As we continue to delineate this new paradigm for global transition, the nature and behaviour of complex adaptive systems becomes increasingly primary within our research and practice. Moreover, frameworks that have facilitated holistic analyses and action across social, cultural, ecological, economic, political, and technological systems remain necessary, but insufficient. Rather, systems maps and models should also seek to represent their mechanisms, processes, and dynamics. As part of this, both sustainability and complexity scholars grapple with the challenges of overcoming reductionism; navigating indistinct systems boundaries; engaging with cascading, interconnected, and multilevel systems factors; adapting to ongoing systems fluctuations; and, transitioning from mechanistic to relational epistemologies.

This paper captures the early development of a collection of experimental diagrams, extracted from my own repertoire of research and practice, as these evolved from a systemic approach to design, to a complex systems approach to sustainability. Produced over the course of twenty years, in collaboration with the Institute without Boundaries (IwB), Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI), and the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE), they also provide a view into the shifting intellectual culture of regenerative sustainability. By extension, the paper can serve as a point of departure for more strategic and systemic integration of sustainability and complex systems thinking, for application in global transition initiatives.
Keywords: complexity
knowledge structuring
regenerative sustainability paradigm
social-ecological systems




Citation Data

Author(s): Perin Ruttonsha
Year: 2023
Title: The Making of a Regenerative Paradigm: A collection of experimental diagrams
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: Washington DC, USA
Symposium Dates: October 6–20, 2023
First published: 30 September 2023
Last update: no update
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD12

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