Graphic Jam

A 3-minute visual brainstorming exercise: Draw ‘responsibility’ without using any words**

The visualizations below illustrate the diversity of approaches students use to analyze and communicate a concept on paper. The resulting diagrams reveal mental models that engage different scales and connections in and among social and planetary systems. For example, a comparison of ‘responsibility’ models below show that some students choose to focus on specific issues (e.g. pollution), others yet on levels of action (e.g. global), or classifying responsibility types, or capturing connections (e.g. between social and ecological systems).

This activity harnesses student creativity to engage with new concepts. It can also be a jumping off point to introduce systems thinking. Some drawings inevitably fit multiple themes. A discussion with students can reveal the main focus and will help to place these models.


**some students will continue to doodle during class to perfect their drawings, resulting in varying degrees of sophistication in the final models. If the 3-minute deadline is important, drawings should be collected right away


It will take the whole world” –global community responsibility

“The weight of the whole world” –individual responsibility

“This is our home” — focus on the planet

“It starts at home” –household and individual-level responsibility

“A typology of responsibilities’ –capturing a diversity of responsibilities

Visualizing complexity: tradeoffs, and connections in space and time

Zooming-in: Issue-based approach

Relationship with nature: seeing social-ecological systems