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An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change (Part 5)

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Edited by Albert Williams, Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 10:38

Greetings friends, 

This installment of my blog: An inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change will take the form of an invitation to join me in designing an initial inquiry into designing a Critical  Learning System for the Caribbean islands devastated  by hurricanes  Irma and Maria last year using  Dominica as a pilot. 

An invitation

A Critical Learning System for the Commonwealth of Dominica, in respect of land, water and development


The Commonwealth of Dominica was struck by Hurricane Maria between the 18-19th of September, 2017 which was perhaps the worst North Atlantic hurricane season on record. 

 Two major hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean within two weeks last year: Hurricane Irma on September 6 which killed over 134 persons and caused catastrophic damage on, Saint Barthelemy, Sint Martin, Anguilla, St Kitts, Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands, United States Virgin Islands, Cuba, Florida and Barbuda that was totally devastated and ALL residents had to be evacuated, leaving the island uninhabited for the first time in 300 years. Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane almost totally obliterated Dominica leaving over 96 persons dead or missing, then went on to devastate Puerto Rico.


Dominica is no stranger to natural disasters. Hurricane  David struck the island on  August 29, 1979.  On August 27, 2015, Tropical Storm (TS) Erika hit Dominica killing 13 people. Extremely violent weather caused numerous landslides and flooding destroying whole villages and swollen rivers washed away roads and bridges.

In our quest to to join in Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit's vision to create the first climate-resistant country in the world, it behoves us to utilise and adapt every capability, human or technological innovation to build not only the infrastructure, but the human capital, that is both the participant and the beneficiary of such a noble enterprise. Our quest is to drive this vision to fulfilment, and make it sustainable for future generations.

What are Critical Learning Systems?

Metaphorically, a learning system already exists in Dominica. The government through its agencies and departments working in concert with third-party entities, such as Non-government agencies (NGOs) and friendly governments provides a basis for the exchange of goods and services and feed-back and feed-forward exchanges that inform the conduct of business in this situation of interest.

Briefly, how this network of organisations and governments differs from a 'Critical Learning system', is that the participants are aware that they are working purposefully within a domain or boundary towards the solving a problem through understanding:

  • how they are learning about a particular experience

  • what they are learning about a particular experience


  • how they are using the results: insights and findings generated by this introspection to address the present concern. In short, we are creating 'new knowledge.'

Land, water and development

The invitation to join this discussion is partly due to (1) a requirement of TU812: Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction's third tutor-marked assessment (TMA) in which I have been asked to seek third-party comments on my selected topic: Land, water and development. And (2) my own ongoing inquiry into my systems practice for managing systemic change

Even without formal training in systems thinking, I am sure that anyone who has followed the media accounts of the destruction wrought by the hurricanes in the Caribbean last year can make the connections with the topic of land, water and development.  The issues faced by the islands are are numerous as they are ubiquitous:

  • they are all small islands surrounded by water.

  • they depend on tourism and agriculture for their living. 

  • they are frequently buffeted by hurricanes.

  • damage to vegetation and housing stock is widespread.

  • Cleaning up and disposal of debris: fallen trees, household. appliances, destroyed cars and boats, concrete and galvanise is an ongoing problem.

  • The future is uncertain and complexity.

Nevertheless, the mood is hopeful and up-beat. Dominica's Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit is leading the charge against climate-change vowing to rebuild his island as the first climate-resistant country in the world. Initiatives such as the Clinton Foundation's Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery and entrepreneur, Richard Branson has set in motion a team to develop a Marshall plan for the islands. Humanitarian organisations and former colonial powers and world bodies have all pledged, in cash or kind to come to the aid of the struggling islands.

Have your say

With this brief introduction to the background of my invitation, I invite you to discuss what you think are some of the concerns that you may identify in regards to land, water and development. For instance:

  • The need for relocation of homes and business.

  • The dredging of silted rivers to prevent future flooding.

  • What of the future of the private sector

  • what of the the idea of a climate resistant country. What will this look like?

I am sure that you can see how nurturing a Critical learning system comprising of government officials, managers and middle managers in the private sector, as one set, and law enforcement and essential services in another. While we might even consider a residents and/or student's subset could be other choices.

Your comments and ideas maybe reproduced in my submission or appear in the TU812 module discussion forum.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read and respond accordingly


Photo credit CDEMA : Before hitting Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, causing utter devastation.

For further reading

Cape Cod Chronicle. (2017). Maria, Irma Bring Long-distance Heartbreak, Helplessness: Locals Send Prayers, Aid To Loved Ones In Hurricanes' Path. [online] Available at: http://www.capecodchronicle.com/en/5239/chatham/2145/Maria-Irma-Bring-Long-distance-Heartbreak-Helplessness-Locals-Send-Prayers-Aid-To-Loved-Ones-In-Hurricanes'-Path-Storms.htm [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Dominica News Online. (2018). Former US President Clinton to visit Dominica. [online] Available at: http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/general/former-us-president-clinton-to-visit-dominica/ [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Dominica News Online. (2017). Housing sector receives massive blow from Hurricane Maria. [online] Available at: http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/general/housing-sector-receives-massive-blow-from-hurricane-maria/ [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

NBC News. (2017). 72,000 people live on Maria-hit Dominica. Its hospital's ICU is gone.. [online] Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/weather/hurricane-maria-damages-dominica-s-main-hospital-leaves-war-zone-n803711 [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

ReliefWeb. (2017). Tropical Storm Erika - Aug 2015. [online] Available at: https://reliefweb.int/disaster/tc-2015-000119-dma [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Rubin, M. (2018). Dominica’s PM posted frantic Facebook messages as Hurricane Maria tore the roof off his home. [online] Quartz. Available at: https://qz.com/1081501/hurricane-maria-dominicas-prime-minister-roosevelt-skerrit-posted-live-facebook-updates-as-the-hurricane-hit/ [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Rosenbloom, S. (2017). After Maria and Irma: Caribbean Tourism, Island by Island. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/travel/maria-irma-caribbean-tourism-island-by-island.html [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

Virgin. (2017). Creating a Marshall Plan for the Caribbean. [online] Available at: https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/creating-marshall-plan-caribbean [Accessed 7 Mar. 2018].

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