Systems Thinking

D.S.R.P. and/or Systems Thinking

Applied to Real-World Problems

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So, you’ve had the opportunity this semester to learn about Systems Thinking. In particular, you’ve learned about the specific systems thinking model designed by Derek Cabrera that consists of four key components, or lenses, as I like to call them, of Distinctions, Systems, Relationships, and Perspectives. You’ve had the chance to apply them formally in the group projects and in your midterm exam; you’ve also had the chance to practice using these “lenses” in a more randomized way in your informal assignments. Great!

Now, you may recall from Dr. Cabrera’s TED Talk that he specifically mentions the use of this DSRP model, or systems thinking in general, to solve problems. He discussed how people in a wide range of fields and academic disciplines can use or apply systems thinking to solve complex problems we are faced with in the 21st century. He explained the way in which a systems model of viewing the world replaces the older paradigm that served humanity since the enlightenment, and which really accelerated after the industrial revolution, which was the “Cartesian” model that focused only on parts as parts and not on parts as wholes and vice-versa. A good metaphor for the Cartesian model is the factory assembly line, whereas a great and obvious metaphor for the systems model is the World Wide Web, or internet.

Since DSRP and/or systems thinking is not merely for the purpose of playing intellectual gymnastics but rather for serving as a useful and practical tool in real-world problem-solving, such is precisely what you are asked to do in this third formal essay of the class!

In this assignment, you are asked to select ONE of the areas listed below in which to construct: 1. An argumentative claim statement (a debatable thesis); 2. A focused, well-developed essay that aligns with the claim and explicitly uses the D.S.R.P. model as the very basis of your construction (you must use boldface/explicit headers for these four areas, along with the added headers for the introduction and conclusion using MLA guidelines); 3. A body of good resources (i.e.research) in which to cite throughout the essay in support of your claim and sub-claims; 4. A strong sense of appeal for your argument using Aristotle’s three forms of appeal (ethos/credibility, logos/logic, and pathos/emotion); 5. A strong sense of balanced objectivity as you clearly demonstrate fair treatment of views that oppose your own (“fair treatment” involves clear awareness, intellectual understanding, and human empathy); 6. MLA guidelines applied to the overall document format, the “Works Cited” page, and to all of the citations of your sources within the essay in the form of direct quotes and paraphrases.

These are the SUBJECT AREAS in which to identify a singular problem within one of these areas that must be explained and argued through a specific opinion and using the DSRP model as the structural framework. The following subject areas are the ONLY APPROVED subject areas for this assignment, as writing an essay on a subject that is not on this list, regardless of the essay quality, will receive a zero:

· Space Exploration
· Extreme Sports
· Food/Nutrition
· Mental Illness
· Disaster Preparedness (Natural or Otherwise)
· Telecommuting (Work/School)
· Video Games/Gaming
· Academic Integrity
· Public Transportation
· Wild Animals

Note: The list above contains 10 subject areas; it will be your job, once you’ve selected a subject area, to identify/explain a particular problem within the scope of that area.


This essay assignment requires a minimum of 5 full pages of text using MLA format. The Works Cited page must be included in the essay, but NOT counted as one of the five pages. Essays without a Works Cited page will not be accepted; essays that are not formatted according to MLA will automatically lose one full letter grade.

Keep in mind that OVER-USAGE OF SOURCES IS ALMOST AS BAD AS PLAGIARISM. While not an ethical/cheating problem like plagiarism, the over-usage of sources (i.e. percentages of words from source material nearing upwards of 35-40 percent or more) ultimately means that you’ve hardly written the essay yourself. By over-using sources, you are merely asking me to assess the writing of others.



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