Relational Systems Thinking

Over the past few decades, Systems Theory, Systems Thinking, Systems Change, and so on have become popular topics in the field of Leadership Studies. However, many of the underlying systems principles derived from ancient wisdom in Indigenous cultures worldwide. Drawing upon her 2021 article, Relational Systems Thinking: That's how change is going to come, from our Earth Mother, as well as her doctoral work engaging in conversations with Haudenosaunee Elders and Western systems thinkers, Melanie identifies cross-cultural dialogues as a doorway to healing, transformation, and spiritual understanding.

Webinar graphic recording

Graphic Recording by Nigit'stil Norbert


Meet Melanie:

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 Ph.D. candidate in Social & Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo and is a Research Fellow with the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation & Resilience (WISIR). 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 Ph.D. in Leadership for Sustainability. She is an Advisor to the new Systems Awareness Lab and the Presencing Institute, both at MIT. Melanie is an alumna of the IWF Leadership Foundation's Fellows Program (2015-16 class) sponsored by Harvard Business School and INSEAD.


Graphic Recording - Relational Systems Thinking by Nigit'stil Norbert

Journal Article  - Relational Systems Thinking: That's How Change is Going to Come, From Our Earth Mother by Melanie Goodchild

Journal Article - The Dibaajimowin (Story) of Re-Theorizing “Systems Thinking” and “Complexity Science” by Melanie Goodchild

Radio show - First Voices Radio with Melanie Goodchild with Tiokasin Ghosthorse

The Other Others podcast - Indigenous Systems Thinking by Tyson Yunkaporta

Leading from Being Podcast - Braiding & Balancing Wisdom with Melanie Goodchild by Todd Hoskins & Marti Spiegelman

Book - Deer & Thunder: Indigenous Ways of Restoring the World by Arkan Lushwala

Book - Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta

Thank You:

This is the second episode of the Decolonizing Leadership Webinar Series, hosted by the School of Leadership Studies at Royal Roads University. This series explores important leadership topics from Indigenous perspectives and seeks to deepen relationships with Indigenous knowledge and ways of being and doing and encourage all leaders to consider how we can transform our leadership practices. This series is funded by the Exploring New Ways Funding stream which supports curriculum innovations to increase Indigeneity and understanding.

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