About Inter-Systemic Cascades

Inter-Systemic Cascades is an ongoing scanning exercise for potential high-leverage intervention points. Researchers map causal routes of destabilization among the eight key systems highlighted around the adjacent octagon. Cascades may be either "pernicious" (socially harmful) or “virtuous” (socially beneficial). To date, Inter-Systemic Cascades has produced three projects:

  1. Polycrisis
  2. Permafrost Carbon Feedback
  3. Ultradeep Geothermal

An extension of the Inter-Systemic Cascades scanning exercise, the Ukraine-Russia War Expert Panel convenes regularly to identify unanticipated spillover effects of the Ukraine-Russia war for world political, economic, and ecological systems.

Past ISC Briefs have focused on how the COVID-19 pandemic could sequentially destabilize associated national and global systems, causing cascades of change. Each Brief maps a possible causal route of destabilization among these eight systems.

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ISC Briefs

14 lessons for social movement success

Amy Janzwood
This brief summarizes lessons from the academic literature for building successful social movements. It outlines several core insights with an eye on their practical application for social movements, advocacy campaigns, and their supporters.
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Pension funds and the post-pandemic economy: A shift to bold climate leadership

Scott Janzwood
February 23, 2021 • This Brief analyzes the impact of the pandemic on pension funds and presents strategies for organizations, activists, and researchers to accelerate pension fund leadership on climate change.
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Network dynamics of the pandemic shock: Three network shifts and why they matter

Jinelle Piereder
January 11, 2021 • This Brief analyzes three major shifts in humanity’s networks that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered or accelerated: (1) network centralization, (2) network fragmentation and reconfiguration, and (3) network formation. It then examines the impact of these shifts across economic, food, information, and governance systems.
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The Roubini Cascade: Are we heading for a Greater Depression?

Michael Lawrence & Thomas Homer-Dixon
December 4, 2020 • This Brief develops a system map of Nouriel Roubini’s argument that the world is heading into a Greater Depression. It uses this visualization to highlight crucial features of his prediction.
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Active transportation with micro electric vehicles: Emergency COVID-19 responses and the disrupted future of oil

Yonatan Strauch
June 30, 2020 • This Brief reports on the dramatic changes to urban transportation systems in the United States and Canada during the pandemic.
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Behind the mask: Anti-mask and pro-mask attitudes in North America

Scott Janzwood & Michelle Lee
September 15, 2020 • This Brief reviews the emerging scientific evidence on the effectiveness of masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and offers strategies for addressing persistent anti-scientific beliefs around masks, COVID-19 and other issues.
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Shocking global inequality

Michael Lawrence
August 25, 2020 • This Brief examines how the COVID-19 pandemic is interacting with entrenched structural inequalities between the wealthiest and the most marginalized segments of humanity.
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Evacuating communities affected by disasters during future COVID-19 waves

Scott Janzwood
July 7, 2020 • This Brief investigates the challenges of evacuating communities from natural disasters during possible future “waves” of COVID-19 cases.
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From COVID-19 to a more resilient future: Three interlinked transitions

Michael Lawrence
June 20, 2020 • This Brief uses insights from complexity science to argue that—in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic—Canada must pursue three interlinked transitions if it is to reach a more equitable and resilient future.
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Lessons from the physical distancing norm cascade

Scott Janzwood
June 20, 2020 • This Brief examines the rapid and widespread shift in attitudes and beliefs around physical distancing during the “first wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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