Systems Thinking

Marta Ceroni photo

Marta Ceroni is the co-director of the Academy for Systems Change, a nonprofit that supports organization- and community leaders in their capacity to shape more equitable and sustainable futures through peer learning and a focus on awareness-based systems change.

With a doctorate in forest ecology, over the years Marta has become interested in economies that prioritize communities and nature. Before her current position, Marta worked as a Research Professor for 10 years at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. She is also a writer, a dancer, and a community cultivator. Her ancestral home is in the Po River Valley, in northern Italy, her current home is on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut (Kwnitekw) River, USA.

Dr. Donella H. Meadows, a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and a MacArthur Fellow, was one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the twentieth century. After receiving a Ph.D in biophysics from Harvard, she joined a team at MIT applying the relatively new tools of system dynamics to global problems. She became principal author of The Limits to Growth (1972), which sold more than 9 million copies in 26 languages. She went on to author or co-author eight other books.

For more information visit the Donella Meadows Project and the Academy for Systems Change website.

PAST – March 15th, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

The work of Donella Meadows with Marta Ceroni, Co-Director of the Academy for Systems Change

Photo of Nora Bateson speaking

Nora Bateson, is an award-winning filmmaker, research designer, writer and educator, as well as President of the International Bateson Institute based in Sweden. Her work asks the question “How we can improve our perception of the complexity we live within, so we may improve our interaction with the world?” An international lecturer, researcher and writer, Nora wrote, directed and produced the award-winning documentary, An Ecology of Mind, a portrait of her father, Gregory Bateson. Her work brings the fields of biology, cognition, art, anthropology, psychology, and information technology together into a study of the patterns in ecology of living systems. Her book, Small Arcs of Larger Circles released by Triarchy Press, UK, 2016 is a revolutionary personal approach to the study of systems and complexity, and the core text of the Harvard University LILA program 2017-18. Her new book, Warm Data, was released in 2021 by Triarchy Press.

Nora was the recipient of the 2019 Neil Postman Award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity.

The IBI integrates the sciences, arts and professional knowledge to create a qualitative inquiry of the integration of life. Nora is the president of the International Bateson Institute, directing research projects that require multiple contexts of research. interdependent processes. Asking, “How we can create a context in which to study the contexts?” An impressive team of international thinkers, scientists and artists have been brought together by the IBI to generate an innovative form of inquiry, which Nora coined “Transcontextual Research” and the corresponding new form of information she dubbed: “Warm Data”. A group process created by Nora, called the ‘Warm Data Lab’ has been the public outreach model of this research. Over 1000 groups around the world, in over 40 countries have participated in Warm Data Labs held by more than 600 certified Warm Data hosts. Warm Data Labs assist in developing the ability to perceive complexity. In 2020 Bateson redesigned the Warm Data Lab for online use, called People Need People (online).

In addition Bateson is also credited with the innovation of the neologism “symmathesy,” and the corresponding theoretical essay bearing the same title. Bateson defines this neologism as “An entity composed by contextual mutual learning through interaction. This process of interaction and mutual learning takes place in living entities at larger or smaller scales of symmathesy.”

As an educator she has developed curricula for schools in Northern California, and produced and directed award winning multimedia projects on intercultural and ecological understanding. Her work, which has been presented at the world’s top universities, is described as “offering audiences a lens through which to see the world that effects not only the way we see, but also the way we think”. Nora’s work in facilitating cross-disciplinary discussions is part of her research into what she calls, “the ecology of the conversation.” Her speaking engagements include keynote addresses and lectures at international conferences and universities on a wide range of topics that span the fields of anti-fascism, ecology, education, the arts, family therapy, leadership and many more aspects of advocacy for living systems– she travels between conversations in different fields bringing multiple perspectives into view to reveal larger patterns.

PAST – May 17th, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Nora Bateson, Founder & President, the International Bateson Institute

Systems Being

Melanie Goodchild photo

Melanie Goodchild is an Anishinaabe (Ojibway) complexity and systems thinking scholar. She is moose clan from Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Ketegaunseebee First Nations. Melanie is currently a PHD candidate in Social & Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo and is a Research Fellow with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation & Resilience. She is a proud member of the Iron Butt Association riding her Harley-Davidson motorcycle 1000 miles in 24 hours! Melanie is a faculty member with the Academy for Systems Change, the Wolf Willow Institute for Systems Learning and is a Scholar Practitioner Faculty member at the University of Vermont’s MS and PhD in Leadership for Sustainability. She is an Advisor to the new Systems Awareness Lab at MIT. Melanie is an alumna of the IWF Leadership Foundation’s Fellows Program (2015-16 class) sponsored by Harvard Business School and INSEAD.

PAST – June 28, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Melanie Goodchild

Joanna Macy photo

Joanna Macy PhD, teacher and author, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, Macy has created a ground-breaking framework for personal and social change that brings a new way of seeing the world as our larger body. Her many books include: Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory: The Dharma of Living Systems, World as Lover, World as Self; Widening Circles, A Memoir; Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in with Unexpected Resilience and Creative Power (Spring 2022); and Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work That Reconnects. Macy is retired and lives in Berkeley, California. To learn more, visit

PAST – Sept. 20th, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Joanna Macy, Ph.D., Buddhist Scholar and Systems Thinker

Systems Doing

Lydia Neilsen and Anne Friewald

Vital Cycles is an education and design partnership between Lydia Neilsen and Anne Friewald in Santa Cruz, CA, focused on engaging with and understanding ourselves as nature and how we can enact practices and functional systems towards planetary and personal regeneration. They bring together extensive backgrounds in community health and permaculture education and activism. Their deep curiosity about the interconnectivity of the planet and her people inspires an integration of the health of the land and the health of the individual through their teaching. Anne and Lydia bring a positive action-based perspective that highlights skills, practices and resources necessary for growth, creativity, and vitality in person and place.

They have co-created and teach their signature course Vital Cycles, a PINA recognized Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course with an additional focus on Human Ecology. They give numerous talks and short workshops throughout the Bay Area and also collaborate with Regenerative Economist Della Duncan for seasonal workshops called HUM: A Weekend of Song, Connection and Regeneration: combining singing, Permaculture, Human Ecology and Joanna Macy’s Work that Reconnects.

PAST – Nov. 22nd, 2022 10:00 AM PDT

Lydia Neilsen and Anne Freiwald, Vital Cycles

Monique Aiken

Monique Aiken is Managing Director of The Investment Integration Project (TIIP), a consulting services and applied research firm that provides advice, thought leadership and a turnkey solution, the Systems Aware Investing Launchpad (SAIL) to help investors manage systemic risks and opportunities. She is also a Contributing Editor at ImpactAlpha, a digital news magazine for the impact investing sector, where she hosted “The Reconstruction”, a podcast about moving capital towards justice. Monique is also a co-founder of Make Justice Normal, a collective that seeks to open space for people that are working toward a world in which capital, a proxy for structural power, embodies justice, with the ultimate goal of narrative change, and co-founder of the ReStarter Fund, which aims to be an economic justice and climate justice focused initiative for small business owners in these unique times.

PAST – January 17th, 2023 10:00 AM PDT

Monique Aiken