Advanced Care Research Centre

Blog - professional development

In our latest blog, Louise Hartley, ACRC Programme Coordinator, talks us through her new scholarship.

Earlier this year I applied to the CMVM staff scholarship for support with funding to start a post graduate qualification, MSc Systems Thinking in practice. This was a great opportunity for me to explore a long-term interest, expand my academic skill set and develop knowledge and frameworks in an area I’m keenly interested in.

The application process was clear with all the requirements online. The form consisted of a number of sections which helped you to explain why you wished to study the course, why it would benefit yourself and the University as a whole and what additions it would bring into your working practice. It required support from a number of people and I was lucky to have a team of professionals, both academic and professional services, behind my application. A huge thank you goes out to everyone involved. This course will help me to think about things in a new way, develop a new approach to research management and strategy, and to learn new things both about the subject, and about myself.

Systems thinking is about looking at things in terms of interconnected systems and mapping these things through diagrams to show the relationships between them. Systems can come in all forms and what falls under the definition of a system depends on where you look and decide the outer edges of that system is. By developing as a Systems Thinking Practitioner, I will have a number of tools in the form of system models which I can assess, analyse and build strategy with for the future. It also encourages you to think about these models dynamically, adapting, adjusting and taking parts from different frameworks to ensure the approach is holistic (considering the big picture) but also pluralistic (looking at it from many different viewpoints). Importantly, these tools help you to assess what you are leaving out and make a clear decision to do so as well as consider bias. Most complex problems can be thought about as an interconnected system which leaves so much scope for using these tools.

One of the main reasons for choosing this specific degree is that almost half of the modules are psychology based. People are often vital in understanding systems in society and I’m fascinated by how people approach situations as well as how people flow through, or become part, of a system. It is often what makes them “messy”. How we can think differently in a world that is process focused? How we can fundamentally impact the things around us by making tiny changes in the right places? How do we find the pivot point in the system which improves the system as a whole?

The ACRC, where I work as a programme coordinator, is a multidisciplinary team. We work across many specialities and technical languages across the whole university, focusing on people in later life and actively make them the centre of what we do. This degree allows me to bring a new approach to my skill set and implement it across all of the work we are doing, including research management, in a dynamic, creative and flexible way.