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“Tracing Connections” book honors Barry Richmond

Barry RichmondBarry Richmond was the founder of isee systems and pioneer in the field of systems thinking.  When his life was cut short by a sudden fatal heart attack, Barry was in the prime of his career and the systems thinking community experienced a collective sense of loss and grief.

Barry was fully engaged in bringing systems thinking to everyone.  He saw how this powerful way of thinking could help people to better understand society’s most pressing issues and make the world a better place.  Barry saw K-12 education as one of the keys to creating a better world.  He spoke often about educating young people to become ”systems citizens” and preparing students for the complex problems they would have to face.  Much of his time was devoted to training teachers to incorporate systems thinking into curricula and pedagogy.

A couple of years ago, Barry’s daughter, Joy Richmond, began spearheading an effort to create a book in honor of her father.  Joy invited a group of us together to talk about some ideas for the book and come up with a plan to make it happen. The first idea we discussed was writing the book that Barry himself had intended to write.  Barry left plenty of notes and even had a working title for a book about systems thinking called Traces.   We all agreed that it would be much too daunting to try to write a book for Barry, so we decided to have a book written in tribute to Barry by friends and colleagues who share his passion for systems thinking.

Steve Peterson, Corey Peck and Khalid Saeed were all part of that original discussion and eager to contribute by writing a chapter.  Each had a story to tell about using Systems Thinking in their work and why it is so important in an increasingly interdependent world.  What better way to honor Barry than writing a book that helped get the word out about systems thinking!

Shaping the Book

Lees Stuntz, Executive Director of the Creative Learning Exchange, was also in on the discussion and excited about asking educators influenced by Barry to contribute their stories. Before we invited other authors however, we wanted to provide some guidelines that would tie the book together and give it a more meaningful context.  I think it was Steve who came up with the idea to use the critical thinking skills first outlined in an article Barry wrote for the System Dynamics Review titled “Systems Thinking: Critical Thinking Skills for the 1990s and Beyond”.   We agreed the systems thinking skills would provide a good foundation for the book and each author could then choose a few of the thinking skills to emphasize when telling their story.

Tracing ConnectionsCountless hours of writing, editing, and designing later, Tracing Connections: Voices of Systems Thinkers was born.  Published in partnership with the Creative Learning Exchange, proceeds from the book will fund scholarships that offer learning opportunities for educators to use systems thinking and system dynamics in K-12 education.  The response so far has been excellent and we are pleased to be funding scholarships to help educators attend the ST/DM Conference later this month.

A Chapter for Everyone

What is especially nice about the book, is that you don’t need to read each chapter in sequence.  Since the authors’ experiences range from education and research to business and public policy, there’s sure to be a chapter for everyone.  Click on the link below to view the chapter by Frank Draper titled “Teaching by Wondering Around: Learning About the World Naturally”.  Frank tells a wonderful story about how Systems Thinking has transformed the way he teaches science to high school students.  After reading it, you’re going to wish you could enroll in one of Frank’s field science classes at Catalina Foothills school district in Tuscon, Arizona.

Teaching by Wondering Around by Frank Draper

Animal Temperature Model

Table of Contents with full list of chapter titles and authors

For more information or to order a copy of Tracing Connections, visit http://www.iseesystems.com/tc

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  • Vlad Kunko

    Barry was a great inspiration to me. The Richmonds moved in downstairs on Avalon Rd. in Shaker Heights while Barry was attending Case-Western. Our impromptu talks on Futurist magazine articles, the Whole Earth Catalog, and the New Alchemists was Systems Thinking fodder for insightful analysis … I was with NASA/Lewis at the time and my fate intersected with Dr. Rodney Donaldson, Gregory Bateson's archivist, and Dr. Harold Nelson in Seattle 25 years later with my MA in Whole Systems Design. Since, I have taken an early discussion with Barry to develop a Cybernetic Sequence Model that has piqued interest in Systems groups on LinkedIn … I am most fortunate for having met Barry and his wonderful family, Kathy, Jesse and Joy [infant at the time].

    • Kathy Richmond

      Vlad, thanks for your kind words. I can't believe it's been 36 years since the good old days on Avalon Road! I hope you enjoy the book. It truly was a labor of love.

      • Vlad Kunko

        Thanks Kathy, my son Damian, who was two back when, is in Washington D.C. and helped create OREC – Oceans Renewable Energy Coalition and GMREC – Global Marine Renewable Energy Conference which was last held in Seattle this past April. He is a natural systems thinker and facilitates the international technology sector with the Department of Energy and DoD in pursuit of ocean kinetics (tidal/wave) for future clean sustainable energy. If there is any way that isee products can tailor to this most worthwhile endeavor, Damian (and I) would be happy to know about it as “we pass our torch to the next generation” for this critically imperative cause. Please pass this note on.

  • Pedrodago

    No funciona la liga a Teaching by Wondering Around by Frank Draper

    • Joanne Egner

      Thanks for letting us know. The link has been updated. Please let us know if you still have issues.

  • Dan Lloyd

    Jeremy – thanks for sharing the announcement on Twitter. I've just ordered my copy.

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  • Systemswiki

    Are things getting any closer to offering this book in Kindle format?