Cassie Bingham presents systems thinking to UVUSA

Cassie Bingham presented to UVUSA on systems thinking and its role in creating social change. Photo by Matthew Drachman.

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The Utah Valley University Student Association (UVUSA) received points from the Centers of Social Impact (CSI) about systems thinking, and how they can apply it to create change.

Cassie Bingham, an advisor for CSI and a faculty member, gave a presentation to the council Oct. 28 about systems thinking and its role in creating social change. Systems thinking is described by Steve Brown of Southern New Hampshire University as, “investigating what set of factors and interactions are contributing to or could contribute to a possible outcome.”

“Just like a doctor you have to spot the symptoms of certain problems,” remarked Bingham. “You can’t just slap a band-aid on something and say that it is fixed.”

Within her presentation, Bingham argued that through identifying the structures and systems that create problems, can we actually create lasting solutions to those problems. Bingham stated, “When you start to see those trends over time, then we can start to ask ourselves those questions [on how to fix them].”

Systems thinking, to Bingham, is a diagnostic process. Only through systems thinking of how social, biological, and other systems can we find the roots of what creates a problem. One example used in the presentation was homelessness in Salt Lake City. 

Through this model, she was able to show the council how issues ranging from drugs to religion to historical norms have led to the overall problem in Salt Lake City. 

This was a part of CSI’s participation in the “Map the Systems” competition, which challenges students to find the root cause of problems and come up with solutions based on that. Held in Oxford University, students had the opportunity to compete with other students from around the globe. 

“We have to be social thinkers,” said Bingham. “There are so many ways [students] can be an agent for social change.”

Bingham also stressed how divisiveness is a threat to creating this change. She stated, “The least effective way to solve a problem is to be separated.”

Offering an idea on how to bridge that gap, Day Rodríguez, senator for the college of engineering and technology, said, “The most important thing you can give [to people] is your history.”

Bingham mentioned CSI’s clothesline project, an annual display set up in the Grande Ballroom that highlights violence statistics. This year’s focus was on murdered missing indigenous women (MMIW), and was displayed from Oct. 27 and 28.

For more information about systems thinking and how to get involved in CSI’s operations, visit here.

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