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Reflections on my Systems Thinking Class

Elaha Mahboob is a first-year CIPA student who is concentrating her studies on Science, Technology and Infrastructure Studies. You can read more about Elaha here.

This first semester at Cornell has been an incredible journey. I’ve taken several courses that have been amazing and enlightening. One of the most rewarding studying experiences that I had was with Systems Thinking class, PADM 5449. It simply explains how people can improve their thinking skills by learning to use the four elements of distinctions, systems, relationships and perspectives (DSRP). It is taught by two amazing professors: Derek and Laura Cabrera.

My final project for the Systems Thinking class was about the ineffective peace building process in Afghanistan, it was a real eye opener for me as during my research and while mapping the project; I found some very interesting connections between various sectors in the country and also how international aid has been distributed unevenly and ineffectively in Afghanistan.

The Systems Thinking class has made me see and better understand why efforts at rebuilding the nation and bringing peace within the borders of the country have not been yielding results.

While working on this project, I developed various skills that will come in handy in the future. I learnt how to seamlessly multitask and how to conduct thorough research, gleaning important information and weeding out unimportant ones. Especially, DSRP theory helped me to stay focused by analyzing and understanding deeper those systems and information. At the end, my map helped me to also purpose a solution to the highlighted challenges and the problem.

To wrap up a wonderful class, our professors invited all of us to a lovely dinner at their beautiful house. Well, our professors will have it no other way because that’s practically a tradition with them.

My experience with them is splendid as I enjoyed all the class discussions with both of my professors and I would strongly recommend this class to anyone who loves or wants to be part of the Systems thinking body.

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