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Systems and Design Thinking Go to the Ballpark

A recent trip to baseball’s legendary Fenway Park provided the ideal example of understanding systems and how they can create public health problems like obesity through structural means. Being aware of these systems, their boundaries, and their activities can help us better find the causes of individual activity by looking at what encourages behaviour not just what people do.

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Empathy: The Ultimate Design + Systems Challenge

Empathy is a central feature of good human-centred design, yet is often practiced narrowly. Visualization with systems thinking and mindfulness are three additional features that can transform empathy from a simple tool to a vehicle for transformation by connecting us less to absolute problems and more to relative ones. In today’s Globe and Mail newspaper […]

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Disruption by Design

If we are to expect that the fields most connected to social action and the promotion of wellbeing are to contribute to our betterment in the future, they need to change. Disruptive design for programs, services and the ways we fund such things is what is necessary if these fields are to have benefit beyond themselves. Long past are the days when doing good was something that belonged to those with a title (e.g., doctor, health promoter, social worker) or that what we called ourselves (e.g., teacher) meant we did something else unequivocally (e.g., educate). Now we are all teachers, all health promoters, all designers, and all entrepreneurs if we want to be. Some will be better than others and some will be more effective than others, but by disrupting these ideas we can design a better future.

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Our Unhealthy Hero Complex

Is our use of the term ‘hero’ in the context of health care doing us more harm than good? What if we stood back and look at what that term means in light of true population and public and public health? We might change our tune.

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Back to School and the Lesson of Accumulation

As we go back to school it is time to consider how the stresses of teaching and education build up over time and why it might be worth re-thinking its impact.

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The Food Bank Model of Education and the Tyranny of Resiliency

Resiliency enables us to bounce back from adversity, but like an elastic band too much stretching can lead to breakdown. Food banks, once a stop-gap for food security are now a model for education. Are we stretching a little too far?

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Cohesion vs. Diversity

Systems function well at the ‘edge of chaos’. In social systems that means balancing diversity with cohesion, but there are aspects to both that are troubling and may be highly incompatible. Can we have both or do we have to sacrifice one for the other?

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The Organic – Health debate

Focusing on nutrients in the organic-health debate is missing the point on the benefits to the environment and social determinants of health of organics.

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