Introduction to resilience: theory and practice

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Policy Essentials
Skills for Future Leaders


In our globalised society, people and organisations need to deal with increasingly frequent and severe shocks and stresses. This makes resilience crucial for anyone designing and implementing policy in our today’s complex world.

Resilience has become an extremely popular concept as the world becomes more complex - but it is a concept that is at times vague and difficult to implement. Building on recent research, this course breaks down the concept of resilience, introducing some of its different flavours, and provides tools for building resilience in practice. Central to this course will be the notion that resilience is both an individual and a system property. Participants will learn new tools for designing policy to meet goals of resilience building to enhance human well-being, as well as approaches for building resilience in their own organisation in order to deal better with complexity and change.

Course overview

There is a growing demand emerging in the Australian Public Service to build resilience, but a lack of understanding of what resilience is and how to build it. This course will focus on system resilience and provide you with tools and frameworks to design and implement resilience in communities.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, participants will have advanced their knowledge and skills to:

  • Describe different perspectives on resilience
  • Use resilience thinking to understand the complex interactions and changes within a policy problem
  • Use resilience and systems theories to critically analyse policy actions and outcomes
  • Draw on a variety of frameworks to design policies that build resilience and achieve policy objectives
  • Have the opportunity to receive feedback from the instructor

Core topics:

  • Approaches to resilience from different scientific disciplines, focusing on social-ecological resilience;
  • System dynamics (attractors, regime shifts, feedback loops);
  • General principles for building resilience;
  • Resilience assessment tools.

Course format:

The course will include small-group exercises where participants have the opportunity to work through and receive feedback on their own problems from the instructor and each other.

Who shoud attend?

  • Project officers would benefit from understanding how to apply resilience in their projects
  • Senior executives would benefit from understanding how to promote resilience in your organisation

Course presenter(s)

Dr Steven Lade

Dr Steven Lade is a Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University) and an Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Fenner School of Environment and Society (The Australian National University). He is a world leader in the application of complex systems tools to understanding resilience. He lectures in complex systems, resilience, and dynamical systems theory.

Updated:  25 October 2021/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team