Thinking and Working in Systems Online Course

RootChangeDevelopment Revolution, Rebooting Systems

Happy New Year! As in the case of many folks who start the year with a list of new year’s resolutions, we too stepped into 2020 reflecting upon what we want out of this year at Root Change. Intentional learning from, and sharing of our knowledge and resources with fellow development practitioners made it to the top of the list for many Root Changers.  As a first step to acting upon this resolution, we are offering Root Change’s Thinking and Working in Systems blended learning course online for free from February 6 – March 4, 2020. 

Please register online by Friday, January 31 to confirm your participation. 

About the Course

If you work in the social sector, you know only too well that social change is messy, complex, and difficult to predict. Yet, too often we focus on individual parts of a problem, and treat each symptom individually. But, most social challenges can’t be solved through a single, isolated intervention. Instead, creating real, lasting change requires the contributions of multiple actors across sectors–ranging from civil society to government and from businesses to community leaders. By improving the ways that groups and individuals work together you can achieve more sustainable impact. But how can you identify the right actors to engage? How do you identify challenges facing the system and support local efforts to improve? How do you adapt your approaches to strengthen  the system? 

Developed in collaboration with the Aga Khan Foundation and to support Root Change’s work under USAID Local Works, this course is designed to equip development practitioners and civil society leaders like you with the knowledge, skills, and tools you need to:

  • Develop a network map of organizations and relationships within a system;
  • Collect and analyze feedback;
  • Facilitate meaningful systems dialogue; and 
  • Support adaptive approaches to systems strengthening. 

Is it right for me?

Created for individuals working in international development, including staff of international NGOs, donor agencies, foundations, local NGOs, and more, this course is for anyone interested in applying systems thinking in their work. At the end of this course, you will have a robust understanding of what systems thinking is and how it can be applied in your work. 

Course Outline

This course is made up of three live webinars and 3 hours of short video lessons. Throughout the course, there are additional resources and four brief quizzes at the end of each module to give you the chance to test your own understanding of the lessons. You’ll also have a chance to test your understanding of system mapping by logging into Pando, an online social network analysis and feedback collection tool developed in collaboration with Keystone Accountability.

Course Launch Webinar – Live
Live 1-hour webinar to introduce the course objectives and curriculum.
10 am EST, February 6 
Modules 1 & 2 Video Course
Watch about 1.5 hours of video lessons at your own pace.

Module 1: Introduction to Systems Thinking
Receive an introduction to systems thinking built on USAID’s systems strengthening cycle–Listen, Engage, Discover, Adapt.

Module 2: Systems Mapping
Dive into the process of network mapping and feedback collection.
6 – 19
Mid-Course Webinar – Live
Live 2-hour webinar to review the concepts introduced in modules 1 & 2 and apply them to your own work.
9 am EST, February 20
Modules 3 & 4 Video Course
Watch about 1.5 hours of video lessons at your own pace.

Module 3: Systems Analysis
Learn to analyze your network map and reflect on the role that your organization currently plays within a system.

Module 4: Systems Strengthening
Learn how to engage system actors in dialogue and how to work together to develop solutions that are locally owned.
February 20 – March 4
Course Wrap Up Webinar – Live
Live 2-hour webinar to review the lessons learned in modules 3 & 4 and embed these practices in your work. 
9 am EST, 
March 5


Email us at to learn more about the Thinking and Working in Systems course.