Systems Thinking in Urban Health

  • DATE / TIME:
    2015•03•08    09:00 - 17:00

    The 12th International Conference on Urban Health (ICUH) will be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 9–12 March 2015, the first such conference to be held in Asia. Prior to the conference, on Sunday, 8 March, the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) will convene a workshop on Systems Thinking in Urban Health.

    New urban contexts arising from planetary change present increasingly complex problems of urban health, which defy easy understanding and control via traditional methods of science, public health, and urban management. Systems approaches are needed to unravel causal structures, characterize health issues and their intersection with other urban phenomena, foster understanding among diverse stakeholders with different understandings of urban problems, and identify leverage points for effective policy.

    This workshop will familiarize participants with the basic elements of systems problems in the context of urban health, and introduce them to a set of conceptual and analytic tools for addressing such problems, drawing on fundamentals of systems thinking and cognitive science. In particular, it will explore causal structures that affect health in the urban environment, and how the diverse goals of urban stakeholders can complicate or enable effective policy for health and well-being. The development of new knowledge will be encouraged using facilitated interactive discussions and guided solo or small group work using simple conceptual modeling tools.

    Participants will identify and work on problems from their own practice, working closely with others for more effective learning. In drawing together participants from various geographic and cultural contexts, the workshop will foster ongoing knowledge exchange and generate collaborative relationships in anticipation of the regular session of the 12th ICUH.

    Workshop Convenor:

    Dr. José Siri, Research Fellow, UNU-IIGH

    Workshop Facilitators:

    Prof. Barry Newell, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

    Dr. Franz Gatzweiler, International Council for Science programme on “Health and Well-being in the Changing Urban Environment, a Systems Analysis Approach,” Xiamen, China

    Dr. Katrina Proust, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia


    A maximum of 25 participants whose work brings them into contact with complex issues of urban health will be enrolled. Eligible participants will be professionals, scholars and practitioners in the urban sphere, involved in academia, public health, urban design or planning, environmental management, urban governance, or other related fields.  Applicants should indicate their country of origin, country of employment, organization and title (for academic applicants: educational institution, course, and year of study), and submit a brief (maximum 100 word) statement on their specific interests related to the urban context and how they anticipate the workshop will improve their practice.  Applications from professionals engaged in fields other than public health are encouraged. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis while slots are available.

    To register and for further information, see the ICUH website, or send direct applications and questions to the workshop facilitators at: