Fall 2019 - REM 221 D100

Systems Thinking and the Environment (3)

Class Number: 1434

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    RCB 6125, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2019
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    BLU 10021, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    Steve Conrad
  • Prerequisites:

    One of REM 100, or GEOG 100 or 111, or EVSC 100.



Introduces systems thinking in the context of environmental and sustainability challenges using system archetypes and system dynamics theory. Analytical and modeling techniques are applied to understand and project systems complexity. Students with credit for ENV 221 may not take this course for further credit. Quantitative.


This course will introduce students to systems thinking and will provide an overview of different analytical and modeling techniques used to understand and project systems complexity.  The course will use environment and sustainability challenges as examples to illustrate system archetypes and dynamics. The knowledge and skills gained will be applicable to many disciplines.


After completing REM 221, students will be able to:

  • Define a system, types of systems, and be able to use of systems thinking terminology
  • Explain at least 5 system archetypes
  • Use math to describe simple linear and non-linear dynamics of systems
  • Describe how limits can affect functioning of systems
  • Explain resilience, self organization, emergent properties in terms of system function
  • Explain the opportunities and dangers inherent in decision making using a systems lens including consideration of unintended consequences, trade-offs, tipping points and sensitivity
  • Explain the types of analytical tool/methods used to understand systems
  • Demonstrate the ability to use a simple model to project system function


  • Class Assignments 20%
  • Term Project 25%
  • Mid Term Exam 25%
  • Lab Assignments 20%
  • Weekly Quizzes 10%


Assignments are due before the start of class on the due date and lab assignments are due before your next lab.



Meadows, Donella .2008. Thinking in Systems - A Primer. Chelsea Green Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-84407-726-7


On canvas.sfu.ca, under Lecture Pages

Registrar Notes:

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