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SYSC 413/513: Holistic Strategies for Problem Solving


This course focuses on the application of Systems ideas and practitioner skill development across disciplines. Readings and diversified class sessions explore topics including the meaning of “holistic” and “system,” multiple levels of analysis, multiple perspectives, learning organizations, frameworks/processes for problem-solving, and use of tools like graphic representations, group processes, modeling, and causal-loop diagramming. A facilitated and collaborative learning environmental encourages students to take ownership of their own learning experience. 

This course was formerly named “Systems Approach,” and essentially the course is about developing students’ understanding of what it means to take a systems approach, ie. employ a holistic strategy, and empowering them with tools that can be employed across a wide range of problems.  The challenge starts with how one defines a problem and gets even more interesting from there...

Instructor: David E. Hall, Ph.D.

David earned his Ph.D. in Systems Science: Psychology and M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at PSU.  He has taught Psychology courses since 2004 and has served as Adjunct Professor in Systems Science since 2010.  David has a diverse background as a consultant, facilitator, project manager, researcher, environmental activist, writer, coach, massage therapist and volunteerism addict.

Class Format:

Seminar-based.  Twice weekly in-person class sessions provide time and space for in-depth discussions and experience with a range of facilitation techniques and exercises.

Required Materials:

Senge, P. M. (2006). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization (Rev. ed.). New York: Currency/Doubleday.

All other readings provided as pdf’s via course’s D2L website. See this recent course syllabus for complete list of readings and more course details.


Graduate standing, or upper-division standing and completion of one SySc cluster course. Or permission of the instructor.


Contact David Hall: 
Click here to see a course flyer and a recent syllabus.