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AgResearch Professorial Chair in Systems Thinking

Launch of AgResearch Professorial Chair in Systems Thinking and Practice
24 September 2008

On Friday 26 September AgResearch and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) will co-host an event to launch the AgResearch Chair in Systems Thinking and Practice. AgResearch is co-funding this Chair at The University of Queensland and Professor Kambiz Maani has recently been appointed to this position.

The Chair is based in the university's School of Natural and Rural Systems Management in Brisbane. The School and AgResearch have collaborated for a number of years and AgResearch’s CEO, Dr Andy West, says Queensland was the stand-out university to partner with on this initiative due to its international reputation in systems research and education.

AgResearch and The University of Queensland believe that an integrated and systemic approach is required to solve complex challenges, such as those faced by New Zealand agriculture as it trends to more intensive land use.

All over the world scientists and systems thinkers are being called upon to bring an integrated approach to solve complex problems in environment, energy, transportation, healthcare, poverty and urban and rural development.

The Chair will facilitate the development and application of systems theory and methodologies in solving complex problems in sustainable management and support the on-going sustainable and profitable growth of New Zealand’s pastoral sector.

“Change upon change is being layered on agriculture, be these dictated by consumers, supermarkets or regulators. There isn't a single person who is able to summate these changes and coherently articulate what they collectively mean for future land use in New Zealand or, for that matter, our export performance and therefore national prosperity. Systems-based research offers an approach for untangling the mass of change and making some sense of the likely trajectory for agriculture and thus New Zealand,” says Dr West.

Dr West says AgResearch is delighted with the appointment of Professor Maani and his expertise is already providing valuable input into our research and he has begun to mentor AgResearch staff to enhance their own expertise in systems practice.

Prior to this position, Professor Maani held a leading role at the University of Auckland Business School in conducting research, developing programmes and offering executive education in systems thinking around the world. His leading book with Professor Bob Cavana, Systems Thinking, System Dynamics – Managing Change and Complexity (Prentice Hall, 2nd Edition 2007) is widely used as a text and reference book at universities and corporations around the world.

“AgResearch is also delighted that MAF is co-hosting the launch event in Wellington. MAF has emphasised that it regards the establishment of the AgResearch Chair as an important initiative for sustainable agriculture in New Zealand," says Dr West.

MAF’s Director General, Murray Sherwin says MAF and AgResearch have complementary objectives in regards to sustainable agriculture in New Zealand and we maintain a strong partnership approach to achieving our objectives. "We acknowledge that traditional approaches must evolve to become more integrated and systematic in order to address some of the complex issues that confront the pastoral sector, and using new tools such as systems thinking is a key way forward, he says.

MAF welcomes and supports this initiative between AgResearch and The University of Queensland that marks an important step in understanding and addressing New Zealand’s sustainable agriculture issues in a more integrated, systematic and holistic manner,” he says.

ENDS

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