Interconnectedness refers to the manner in which a group of objects interact with one another to form a complex whole that operates as system. The idea of interconnectedness frequently is associated with sustainability, particularly in reference to the manner in which the environment, society, and economic systems are inextricably linked. Therefore, education for sustainability often focuses on the properties of social-ecological systems, interwoven systems of humans and nature. Interconnectedness also can refer to phenomena that might be less readily thought of as systems. For example, ideas, people, communities, issues, and solutions also can be interconnected.
Interconnectedness often involves the manner in which it is sometimes impossible to fully understand a system until we see how the elements within the system interconnect with one another or how the system interacts with other systems. It is sometimes necessary to examine an entire ecosystem to understand the individuals within that community. Similarly, we often gain new insights into local issues when we see how they are connected to a larger global context.
Many people find it difficult to understand very large scale, complexly interconnected systems such as those associated with climate change, biodiversity, or globalized economic systems. Education for sustainability provides opportunities for learners to engage with complex, interconnected phenomena and to embrace the uncertainty and ambiguity that arises from our innate inability fully comprehend large interconnected systems. The primary tool for investigating interconnectedness is systems thinking which is a strategy for representing complex interdependences and interrelationships. Systems thinking looks at the way systems behave and change over time and the various feedback loops and forces that affect interconnected processes.