"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Understanding complexity, dynamism and transformation in social, human, ecological systems: Panarchy

Panarchy is a conceptual framework to describe evolving hierarchical systems with multiple interrelated elements. The aim is to understand the transformation in social, natural, ecological complex systems. This trans-disciplinary model can be adapted and applied to organizations, nations, and societies.

Panarchy is an innovative transdisciplinary model bridging the new sciences, ecology, biology, ecological economics, environmental policy, management, and complexity. Panarchy is the dynamic structure in which natural and human systems (such as forests, corporations, institutions, civilizations..) are interlinked in continual adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal. These transformational cycles take place at various scales ranging from micro levels (a drop of water) to macro levels (the biosphere), over periods from days to eras. By understanding these cycles and transformation dynamics, researchers can identify different points and transition phases at which a system is capable of accepting positive change. Panarchy can be used to foster resilience and sustainability within human and natural systems.
Creating institutions to meet the challenge of sustainability is the objective here.

If you are deeply interested in this issue, I recommend you to read Gunderson and Holling's book: "PANARCHY: Understanding Transformations In Human And Natural Systems".
However, if you want an overall general understanding of Panarchy, I recommend the following web site to learn more about the model:

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