There is no dearth of public policy and research focus on ecologically fragile and conflict-prone river basins of South Asia. Although there are success stories in different governance levels (e.g., sharing of disaster related information across SAARC nations, community early warning systems, spring rejuvenation), sustainability of such policies and development practices have been a concern. Amid social-ecological complexity of localities and global environmental uncertainties there is a need to practice principles of adaptive governance like social learning, shared understanding and flexibility in policy processes. However, there is knowledge gap about the methodologies to ‘test the waters’ for adaptive governance in river basins of South Asia. This talk focuses on use of systems thinking as a transdisciplinary heuristic for exploring opportunities and challenges for shared understanding and social learning in 2 such contexts of Brahmaputra River Basin within India. The talk will also illustrate on how such techniques can be used as pedagogy for public policy education.