The natural world, heritage and culture explored through a systems lens.

This is our journey of exploration, visiting coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Atlantic, studying the relationship between people with sea and inland waterways, both now and through history, with sea routes and development of trade and the transmission of ideas as well as the development of settlements and inland transport links, while appreciating the underwater seascapes with the community structures of plants and animals, observing their distribution, dynamics and behaviours, and ultimately the relationship between the natural environment and human systems, and the impact of stressors in each area and possible future scenarios.

While travelling we advocate for the UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDG), promoting sustainability practices and ocean literacy, contributing what we are learning, who we have met and our experience in systems thinking, analysis, modelling and traceability at events, workshops, courses and round table sessions, in support of voluntary commitment for action made during the UN 2017 Ocean Conference for SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and related Goals.

We see SDG’s along with the United Nations Convention Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and Convention Biodiversity (CBD) and its regional implementations, forming a framework with common themes of protection and conservation while providing benefits to society, by taking a systems approach to the management of the inherent complexity.

While primarily exploring for our own interest we engage in 3 activities:

1 – participating in citizen science and sustainability initiatives with biodiversity mapping and obtaining basic environment health status indicators, to contribute to filling data gaps used to form policy and management coastal zone, by using low cost build assets such as opensource ROV’s, AUV’s and seagliders and promote how these can be used by communities to become engaged in the management of its environment through the use of data collection, investigations, monitoring and decision making. Our ROV is a MK2.8 OpenROV, named Boldt, after Alexander von Humboldt, the subject of a brilliant biography by Andrea Wulf, “The Invention of Nature”.

2 – educational support through explaining the engineering involved in creating, operating and maintaining ROV assets, investigating the variety of designs and technologies used, through project based learning. For schools, colleges and youth groups several ROV competitions exist, such as MATE and Seaperch, and we are happy to run workshops and sessions or provide mentoring and supporting for groups in this area. We can support ROV build with our experience in the design management process and assist in running local competitions to see how effective each design is, guide activities in post trials evaluation and mentor groups on developing change proposals and in making design iterations: desktop prototypes, simulators, physical making. We support the reuse of existing open-source ideas and designs as a starting point and making of use of previous build components where possible for new builds.  Our use of assets like ROV’s is as a tool to support both technology knowledge transfer and to assist in the investigation and communication of aspects of the natural and societal environments, and using the multidisciplinary systems paradigm, gain understanding who are the actors are in the system, its perceived purpose, its boundary, how actors and elements interact, the systems transformations or processes and how theses relate to ocean stressors and ocean health status, allowing us to build a map or model which can be used to provide insights such as how changes to the system can improve or degrade the system performance, and as a basis to identify and evaluate candidate interventions.

3 – transferring technology skills and knowledge in to roles played by actors, the people, within our broader society and how those roles can support the delivery of the SDG’s in the future world of work, education and daily living. Having learnt what technologies make up the ROV and the design process as outlined in in 2) above, we help others utilise this introductory knowledge through STEM to understand and contribute to applications in other areas such as smart devices, autonomous systems, Factory 4.0 and how through 1) investigation of the broader social systems and how people, how many career choices in society can be used  to inform society and take actions to tackle factors that impact on ocean health and good environmental status, using knowledge of field experience and study of the composite elements, drivers and behaviours between ecological and societal-technical systems, concepts embedded in for example the EC Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) with the use of an “ecosystems” approach, and using systems thinking and systems practices to develop candidate interventions for debate which support making changes to social behaviours, to reset expectations and tackle blockers, to assist the realisation of SDG’s, noting the UN itself advocates a systems approach having offered short courses, a manual and other resources. We offer help to others wishing to learn about and utilise these approaches.

While we continue to pilot the above and grow we will share relevant posts from other organisations and projects on Twitter and Facebook, the latest of which can be seen on the side bar menu.

Follow us on social media for more news and progress on our own journey and watch as per add specific topic pages on this site. If you would like to share experiences or collaborate get in touch !

If you want to learn more the  UK’s Open University, whose Systems Group has over 40 years experience in research and teaching, offers an excellent set of free courses and primers on systems thinking which are available online or as downloads for offline study and reference.