Open Studio

The Open Studio consists of hour-long Zoom meeting sessions led by Waters Center staff. Each session will examine a different topic through a systems thinking lens. Just like our in-person workshops, sessions will be interactive and include opportunities for dialogue among participants. So be prepared to have your web camera on and to connect with other systems thinkers from around the world!

We are committed to supporting teachers in any way we can. Teacher Studio sessions will use systems thinking Habits, tools and strategies to take a deep dive into areas of interest for educators from varying systems. We will also provide ideas for lesson plans that can be adapted to different grade levels. Teacher Studio will occur the first Saturday of every month at 9 a.m. PDT.

Do I need to know about systems thinking to attend?

Each Open Studio session will cater to everyone from a seasoned systems thinker to a beginner. However, we do recommend signing up to the Thinking Tools Studio and exploring the various courses and resources available in addition to the Habits of a Systems Thinker prior to sessions when possible.

Are Open Studio Sessions free?

Yes! We are happy to offer these sessions free of charge. Donations are always appreciated to help us continue our efforts to openly share our resources — no amount is too little.

How do I sign up?

To register for Open Studio sessions, visit the Thinking Tools Studio. Please note, you will need to register for the Thinking Tools Studio to sign up for a session. Registration will open for sessions on a rolling basis (typically one-week prior to the session occurring).

Register Now

Upcoming Sessions:



Please note, this session occurs at 8 a.m. PST and we will not be offering a second session.

Thursday, November 5, 8 a.m. PST
Taking Action: Using Systems Thinking to Tackle Complex Community Challenges

In this session, facilitated by Mackenzie Pish, Program Manager for the University of Arizona Law School’s Innovation for Justice Program, and Alexandria Sedar, a Peacebuilder specializing in systems thinking, international development and public health, you will leave inspired by the stories shared and gain a renewed sense of “I can make a difference.”

Mackenzie and Alexandria will discuss their personal systems thinking learning journeys, including graduate level university courses, that led them to pursue work and research based in social justice and community challenges. Their experiences of interdisciplinary teams working together towards a common goal, combined with their use of systems thinking concepts to address systemic issues such as human trafficking, climate change, healthcare/medical debt, food and water security, housing insecurity and eviction, and more, will be highlighted. This Open Studio promises to address timely issues impacting nations, communities, families and individuals around the world. Read more about Mackenzie Pish and Alexandria Sedar below.

Mackenzie Pish

Mackenzie S. Pish is the Program Manager for Arizona Law’s Innovation for Justice (i4J) Program. i4J is a social justice lab that uses design- and systems-thinking methodologies to design, build, and test disruptive solutions to the justice gap. As an i4J student and as its Manager, Pish has worked on a range of social justice projects: she currently runs its tenant education program; developed the final deliverables for the program’s work on meeting the needs of human trafficking survivors; co-authored i4J’s usability evaluation of Utah’s Online Dispute Resolution Platform; and helped create the i4J Cost of Eviction Calculator, an advocacy tool that was a finalist at the Georgetown IronTech Lawyer Invitational. This year, Pish is co-teaching a course that is applying systems thinking to a challenged framed as “legal empowerment for low-income people experience medical debt.”

Pish received her J.D. from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in 2020, where she was a Distinguished Scholar, an editor on the Arizona Law Review, and recipient of the S. Thomas Chandler Public Service Award. She received her B.A. in Political Science, summa cum laude, from State University of New York, Cortland.

Alexandria Sedar

Alexandria Sedar is a Peacebuilder specializing in systems thinking, international development and public health. Her work is centered in cultivating collaboration and trust among stakeholders and she has worked across disciplines and world regions. Her most recent projects include issues of eviction in Milwaukee, co-creation of water systems and management in Guatemala’s Ixil Triangle, and the protection and the expression of indigenous knowledge in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The latter contributed to the collaborative project Decolonizing Agriculture: A Case Study of Chakra in the Ecuadorian Amazon which was a finalist in Oxford University’s Map the System Competition. Currently, she is the evaluation specialist for the Center for International Education at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). She is also a mentor for Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at UWM and the vice chair of EWB USA’s committee on project monitoring evaluation and learning.

Alexandria received her Masters in Sustainable Peacebuilding from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she was an Advanced Opportunity Fellow and an instructor for Introduction to Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution.



Saturday, November 7, 9 a.m. PST
Teacher Studio: Seasons, Salmon and Storms: Integrating Systems Thinking with Science Standards

The National Research Council’s vision for what it means to be proficient in science is replete with systems thinking connections. The practices emphasize the type of thinking students need to do when engaging in inquiry. The cross-cutting concepts highlight patterns, change, cause and effect, structure, and systems models. Add in meaningful content and you have ideal conditions for highly engaging lessons for students. Join Maria Simpson, science specialist, from Winston Salem Forsythe County School District in North Carolina as she shares some of her best systems thinking integrated lessons.



Check back later for additional events!