• Aarushi

2. Secondary Research

Updated: Feb 19

Considering the project deadline I decided to focus on a specific location and a focused group of people for the research. My research will be carried out with people living in domestic urban spaces of the district Meerut in India.

In order to address a complex issue like climate change it is important to firstly understand the whole system that is surrounding the focused group of people and its impact on their behaviours and actions. Hence, I started the secondary research firstly by understanding system mapping, various elements, functions and interconnections of a system.

My goal was to identify leverage points in the system structure in order to design a solution element. I conducted the literature review from various sources such as books, research papers and journals.

I primarily reviewed works of the two legends Donella H. Meadows and Gregory Bateson. Then I read various articles and journals focusing on the chaos and complexity of systems. The books that I read for the project were as follows:

1. Meadows, D. and Wright, D., 2008. Thinking In Systems.

2. Bateson, G. and Bateson, M., 2008. Steps To An Ecology Of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

3. Stroh, D., 2015. Systems Thinking For Social Change.

These books helped to get various perspectives and a deeper insight into system thinking and understanding behaviours, actions, negative and positive loops in a system and their impact on individual elements.

The research papers that I read were as follows:

  1. Abson, D. J., Fischer, J., Leventon, J., Newig, J., Schomerus, T., Vilsmaier, U., Lang, D. J. 2017. Leverage points for sustainability transformation. Ambio, 46, 30–39.

  2. Bonnett, M., 2016. Environmental Consciousness, Sustainability, and the Character of Philosophy of Education. Studies in Philosophy and Education.

  3. Challender, S., 2000. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice. By Peter B. Checkland. Published by John Wiley, Chichester, UK, 1981, 330 pp., ISBN 0 471 27911 0 (republished 1999 in paperback, with a 30-year retrospective). From a practitioner perspective. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 17(S1).

  4. Everard, M., Reed, M. S., Kenter, J. O. 2016. The ripple effect: Institutionalising pro-environmental values to shift societal norms and behaviours. Ecosystem Services, 21, 230–240

  5. Fischer, J. and Riechers, M., 2019. A leverage points perspective on sustainability. People and Nature, 1(1), pp.115-120.

  6. Folke, C., Jansson, Å., Rockström, J., Olsson, P., Carpenter, S. R., Chapin, F. S., Westley, F. 2011. Reconnecting to the biosphere. Ambio, 40, 719–738. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-011-0184-y

  7. Kineman, J. and Anand, D., 2015. Roots of sustainability in Ancient India. Proceedings of the 58th Meeting of ISSS, Washington DC, USA,.

  8. Miller, M. (1985) The Upanishads, Part 2 of 2. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England.

  9. Manlosa, A. O., Dorresteijn, I., Schultner, J., & Fischer, J. 2018. Leverage points for improving human well-being. Sustainability Science, in press. https://doi.org/10.1007/ s11625-018-0636-4

  10. Ostrom, E. 2009. A general framework for analyzing sustainability of social- ecological systems. Science, 325, 419–422. https://doi. org/10.1126/science.1172133

  11. White, K., Habib, R. and Hardisty, D., 2019. How To SHIFT Consumer Behaviors To Be More Sustainable: A Literature Review And Guiding Framework - Katherine White, Rishad Habib, David J. Hardisty, 2019. [online] SAGE Journals. Available at:<https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0022242919825649>

The research papers discussed and presented critique on various system thinking theories and frameworks regarding sustainability, which helped me to get a wider perspective to understand and address system loop holes.

The 2 main journals that I referred were as follows:

1. Sustainability Science, Springer, Volume 15

2. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Elsevier, Volume 47

Both the journals helped me to be updated about recent developments in the field of sustainability. They helped me to connect to researchers who are tackling the world’s toughest challenges, such as, climate emergency for getting insights to accomplish sustainability goals.


The overall literature review helped me to gain holistic understanding on the topic of sustainability and how system thinking approach can help me to look for leverage points in a complex system. This was one of the most important stages in the entire design process, as it helped me to generate new knowledge by studying existing knowledge, researches and experiments.

I used books, articles, newspapers and journals from different parts of the world and published in different times to gain progressive learning on the topic. This step helped me to look at the bigger picture and made me realise the importance of little details.


Bateson, G. and Bateson, M., 2008. Steps To An Ecology Of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2009. 1(2), p.i.

Meadows, D. and Wright, D., 2008. Thinking In Systems.

Stroh, D., 2015. Systems Thinking For Social Change.

Takeuchi, K., 2020. Special Feature: Exploring Interactions among the Sustainable Development Goals: Case Studies from Three Continents. Sustainability Science, 15(6).

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