Short courses

Using systems thinking to unpack problems

Toolbox series of short courses
Systems Thinking and Behaviour –  28 May to 4 June 2021

Today, we are dealing with increasingly complex and messy problems. Jumping straight to a particular behaviour  – without understanding the wider system – can result in frustratingly ineffective programs or even create new problems.

This course introduces a practical way to apply systems thinking to understand the problem and reveal the social, economic and environmental factors that may be contributing to it. With these insights, you will be able to make better decisions about where to intervene and know which behaviours to target.

This short course is for anyone who needs to understand a problem holistically and better identify ‘who needs to do what differently’.

Bring your own problem to apply a systems approach and gain a broader perspective.

What you’ll learn

All BehaviourWorks’ short courses support skills development and the practical application of behavioural science theories, tools, techniques and methods. 

By attending this short course you will:

  • know why, and how, systems thinking can directly contribute to the development of effective behaviour change initiatives

  • practice using ‘cause and effect’ mapping to gain a broader perspective of the context and situation of a problem.

  • discover how these holistic, big picture approaches can illuminate different actors/behaviours that may be more impactful to focus on

  • uncover connections and influences that can inform later stages of the BehaviourWorks Method, such as identifying specific drivers of a behaviour and designing effective behaviour change evaluations. 

This course aims to contribute to the learning and development capabilities encouraged in the public sector: e.g. ‘systems thinking’ – level: Applied – VPS Public Sector Commission, p. 3 ‘ under meaningful outcomes’.

What’s involved?

The course consists of approx. 15-hours of learning, including videos, discussions, readings and case studies within a self-paced flexible structure. You will also participate in two online workshops scheduled at the start and end of the course, which provide further opportunities for collaboration and peer learning.

Course dates and details

  • Online Workshop 1: Friday 28 May, 9:30 – 11:30 am

  • Online Workshop 2: Friday 4 June, 9.30 am – 12:00 midday

  • Plus 10 hours of self-paced learning between workshops, including access to online content and resources, tool application and peer review.

Cost: $660 incl. GST


*Registrations close 26 May 2021 (places are limited).*

Meet your facilitators

Dr Stefan Kaufman

Stefan has been facilitating and training for socio-environmental change since 2003.

He has designed and delivered workshops and presentations for EPA Victoria and other BWA partners on topics such as research utilisation, science thought leadership, environmental behaviour change, public value research and regulatory compliance and strategy over 11 years as an in-house social science expert and knowledge broker at EPA Victoria between 2007-2018.

Stefan has taught and provided guest lectures at Monash University, RMIT and the University of Melbourne and training and workshops for the Academy of Change (EU), Australia and New Zealand School of Government, the Australasian Evaluation Society, Australian Non-Profit and Social Marketing Association, Australasian Environmental Regulation and Law Enforcement Network and Monash’s groundbreaking GreenSteps program. Research profile here.

Jenni Downes

Jenni is an experienced facilitator and trainer with a focus on understanding and shifting the automatic/habitual behaviours that underpin or undermine environmental sustainability. In particular, Jenni designed and delivered a modular series of bespoke face-to-face and online behavioural science training focused on consumption and waste behaviours.

Through sponsorship by NSW EPA and Sustainability Victoria, Jenni has trained around 250 NSW and Victorian local councils professionals and consistently received >95% positive feedback.

Jenni also has extensive experience designing and facilitating tailored workshops that bring stakeholders together to reflect on and share experiences and insights and collaborative create new ideas, processes or knowledge.  Research profile here.

Dr Denise Goodwin

Denise’s main interest is in the area of knowledge translation, implementation and the application of systems thinking to complex social problems.

Denise is a specialist in qualitative methods, including extensive experience of interviews and focus groups and soft systems methods. Her current research spans a wide range of policy areas, including clinical and preventative health, sport, sustainability, social inclusion and workers injury compensation.

Denise holds a PGCE in tertiary education and has extensive experience in facilitating training workshops, including online delivery. Denise has taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses in both the UK and Australia.  Research profile here.

The benefits of taking a holistic, big picture approach

For behaviour change programs to be successful, we need everyone to be on the same page. One of the tactics we use to achieve this is by showing how problems emerge from systems.

By examining the interconnections and/or influences between networks, processes, policies and organisations, we are better able to identify some of the challenges (i.e., silos, competing agendas, organisational cultures) that may be playing a role.

Systems mapping helps us identify the range of influences contributing to the problem to reveal parts of the system where behaviour change can have the biggest impact – ideally for the least effort.

More on Systems Thinking as a methodology and Research Service