Speaker 2010 Abstracts

MONDAY

Allenna Leonard

Governance in the Relative When

To explore governance is to engage in a form of time travel. Western government structures were designed in the 18th century – long before humankind developed the capacity to effectively destroy itself through conflict or environmental damage.  Family structures and the church, even in the west, encompass models from the 21st century all the way back to the 11th. Large scale business models date from the 19th century. Society means different things to different people depending on the social organizations in which they are embedded.

In my talk last year as incoming president, I made a case for a series of mainly informal local to global viability indices to draw together the information at hand and to identify the gaps. They would be organized according to the Viable System Model, or another comprehensive template and fleshed out by organized discourse using group processes such as the Syntegration. 

The next step is to look at how organizational assumptions might change if we were to begin to take the discoveries, technologies and new sets of relationship and connectivity on board since the furniture of governance was put in place. How would governance look if requisite variety, non-transitivity, the fluid motion of shared subjectivity and the capacity for self-organization were considered? 

Human experience today and the risks it runs are taking place very much in the present. The global village is an amalgam that somehow must learn to work together to achieve sustainability and a version of stability that welcomes innovation and nurtures human development.  

Javier Livas

Accosting the Governance Challenge

The governance challenge that was foreseen by Stafford Beer is here. The First World sees the problem in terms of terrorism, finance, energy and world climate. The third world sees the problem in terms of overpopulation, insecurity, lack of water, disease, ignorance and unemployment. In order to meet it, we have to build bridges to connect Law and Management Cybernetics. Law has been the intuitive application of control laws: attorneys designed the modern democratic state without the help of Management Cybernetics and the Viable System Model. However, the State and business corporations have not responded well to the challenge of complexity. We must recognize that Management Cybernetics can translate Political Science, Economics and Law in terms of the Viable System Model. Memetic evolution goes hand in hand with societal evolution. Law and Cybernetics must embrace each other and it is up to us to build the bridge that allows this to happen.

Alan Willis and Mark van Clieaf

Governance and Finance for a Sustainable Planet

The current trajectory of humanity, globalization and economic prosperity is not sustainable. Globalization and the growing global middle class, especially in emerging markets such as China & India, are putting significant stresses on the true long-term sustainability of the planet.

Effective governance at multiple levels to create clearly aligned accountability for organizing human affairs is not working well due to failure to connect to the larger system. These disconnects occur, for example, at the level of the business entity, especially the corporation, at the level of global finance and capital markets, including institutional investors such as pension funds, at the level of national governments and sovereign bodies – democratic or otherwise – and at the level of regional and international institutions, treaties, laws and regulations.

The most recent failure of banking, finance and capital markets worldwide identifies how a lack of integrated global systems thinking and systems governance at multiple levels contributed to the recent collapse of credit markets and risk to global prosperity.

The current global economic system is designed for Boom and Bust due to linear and short-term thinking and accountability design. Unless these systemic problems are fixed with the benefit of systems thinking rather than piecemeal band-aid solutions, similar or worse future crises are inevitable.

Global finance, capital markets and investment are the fuel for economies, consumerism and corporate growth. Yet the recent crises in these same systems reveal grave disconnects within them and with the broader global, societal context within which they function. They and their leaders, and the national and international policy setters that set the rules for finance, markets and investment fail to understand these institutions from a systems perspective and accordingly are unable to make wise policy choices for the long term.

As an example, the seizing of the credit markets had the unintended consequence of halting investment in cleaner energy from which to create a lower carbon future for a sustainable planet.

This session, with findings from recent research studies, will identify how the application of systems thinking to analyzing the recent governance and global credit crisis can point the ways towards the design of better governance for a viable, sustainable, and resilient planet. The session will show how the application of systems thinking to multi-level governance can create a true north for the long-term sustainability and resilience of the planet.

In particular, the session will cover:

• The unsustainability of current economic theory and the assumptions upon which it is based

• Globalization and the need for a Shift in Consumption and Global Citizen Values impacting the global system

• The need for sustainable corporations, their corporate governance and why a new charter for corporations is needed

• How the systems failure of multiple levels of governance and capital markets is creating a threat to the planet, especially the breakdown and disconnects of governance at 5 Levels in these systems

• How poor accountability, incentive systems design and risk management with regard to financial product innovation contributed to the 2007 - 2008 global credit crisis

• The need to recognize the 5 Levels of Corporate Governance & Risk Management: the system complexity of the enterprise and the implications for directorship and good corporate governance

• How corporate boards and institutional investors are confusing accountability design required for Sustainable Capitalism and Finance with a system for pay delivery and the risks to longer-term prosperity for the planet

• Why the mismatch in accountability, incentive systems and risk management systems in the global banking system, post credit crisis, is actually worse now in 2010, and what regulators, pension funds, corporate boards and management need to do to apply systems thinking to fix systemic breakdowns and systemic risks to ensure long term sustainability.

Michael Ben Eli – Special Invited Evening Open Lecture

Rethinking Everything

Transforming society and the world’s economy to a sustainable basis presents the most significant challenge of our time. This challenge is unprecedented in scope. It requires a fundamental shift in consciousness as well as in action. It calls for a fresh vision, a new dream and new approaches and practices for shaping an evolving new reality. If we are to achieve the necessary change it has become increasingly urgent to outgrow limitations of many existing constraints, all representing realities which have changed and are no longer valid. A deep, world-wide reorientation, individual as well as collective, is essential with genuine breakthroughs in a number of related dimensions: in technology, in the structure of the economy, in the functioning of financial markets, in governance, in values, in imagination and in behavior. This presentation will explore the connection between system thinking, the cybernetic concept of change and the required transformation to sustainability as an enduring state and primary organizing principle on our planet.

 

TUESDAY

Thomas Homer Dixon

Exploring the Adjacent Possible: Scenario Development for a Resilient Future

Humankind creates and critically depends upon technological, economic, political, and socio-ecological systems that are becoming steadily more complex. Their rising complexity makes these systems increasingly opaque to observers and managers and contributes to unexpected interactions among system components. Both these phenomena in turn engender pervasive uncertainty about future system behavior. In a world increasingly characterized by unknown unknowns, how do we best think about the future? This talk will review how different forms of scenario analysis can be used to explore near and intermediate futures in branching space-time -- what Stuart Kauffman has called the "adjacent possible."

Stephen Haines

The Ludwig von Bertalanffy Lecture: Systems Thinking Research Rediscovered: Ludwig von Bertalanffy and the Society for General System's Research's Relevance in the 21st Century

This paper ties the roots of Systems Thinking to its crucial relevance for the future by reviewing the influence and work of the Society for General Systems Research (GSR). It is important to understand the history of Systems Thinking and its original definition that is the Foundation of ISSS. This definition is often lost to the detriment of many current practitioners who lack foundational theory. An understanding of the Systems Thinking Approach as the Core Technology of the Haines Centre addresses the recent failure of the economy and rejuvenates many professional, management with practical applications.

The father of Living Systems Thinking and founder of the Society for General Systems Research (later the ISSS) was Austrian Ludwig von Bertalanffy. When Bertalanffy helped formed the GSR in 1954, his goal was to find a unity of science for all complex living things on earth.

The result is Systems Thinking, both an old and new orientation to life. It is the “natural way the world works,” giving a simpler, yet holistic view of individuals, teams and organizations as they survive and thrive in today’s complex and dynamic global environment. The holistic outcome-oriented approach to Systems Thinking distinguishes it from other narrow and fragmented analytical approaches to life and work. While critical thinking is an important practice, Systems Thinking extends and revolutionizes it in a more extensive and practical way.

Four interrelated main concepts help clarify and simplify how we view our complex world. These concepts— or strands of DNA that compose Systems Thinking— provide a broader mental map to see, think, understand, diagnose and act more effectively.

1. The first DNA strand is the Seven Levels of Living Systems: cell, organ, organism, group, organization, society and supranational system. The paper will focus on the three levels that affect organizations— individuals, teams and organization— and their three levels of collision: one-on-one, team-to-team, and organization-to-environment.

2. The second concept is the Twelve Natural Laws of Living Systems on Earth. These laws, organized into internal and external strands of life— help to point out natural similarities in humans at all Seven Levels. They also aid in comparing Best Practices with traditional human and organization dynamics.

3. The third strand is the ABCs of the Systems Thinking framework. These five Phases provide a simple yet comprehensive approach to integrative and holistic Systems Thinking. The application of these concepts is Strategic Thinking, a “backward thinking” approach that starts with the desired future, then works backwards to develop plans, strategies and actions to “close the gap” and reach desired outcomes.

4. The fourth DNA strand is The Rollercoaster of Change™, the natural and historical reaction to any desired change. This individual and physiological reaction to change is normal and highly predictable. By anticipating natural reactions, a Systems Thinking approach prepares practitioners for every hurdle they might face in implementation.

With the recent failure of the economy, there has never been a better time to return to the basics. This paper focuses on returning to fundamentals that are often forgotten, in order to replace the cycle of failure with a cycle of success. By returning to the roots of Systems Thinking, practitioners can examine and build on past successes, launching their own cycles of success in whatever ISSS sub-group they join.

Fredmund Malik

Advanced Syntegration for Meeting the Challenges of the Great Societal Transformation 21 – As Illustrated by the Practical Example of an Austrian Province

The Syntegation Method is the cybernetic management tool to meet the most complex challenges of any organization within days instead of months as needed with conventional measures by increasing exponentially its problem solving, consensus building, decision making and implementation capacity. Syntegration releases human energy, and in addition to the immediate results turns around the mood of people from resignation to new hopes, from lethargy to optimism and often creates a determined will and almost a “fighting” spirit for achievement.

It does so by using a brainlike cybernetic communications process in order to fully exploit the intelligence, creativity, knowledge, information and human energy of the largest number of people necessary to meet a challenge up to 40 persons and multiples thereof by interconnecting them in a completely new way by using the laws cybernetics enabling 40 individual minds to cooperate like one coherent single mind. How Syntegrity works and what it achieves is illustrated by the example of one of the provinces of the Republic of Austria, one of the central European states.

Roy Wiseman

Measuring Citizen Satisfaction 

For more than ten years, the Institute for Citizen Centred Service (ICCS) has been measuring citizen and business satisfaction with the services provided by all three orders of government in Canada – and has developed an understanding of the expectations and drivers for client satisfaction with government services.  In recent years, this has been integrated into an overall theory of the public sector service value chain (based on the private sector service-profit chain), which is gaining increasing acceptance by governments in Canada and internationally.  At the same time, work on Canadian Governments Reference Models across all orders of government in Canada have developed a standard vocabulary for defining and describing the programs and services that governments provide, as well as an approach for measuring their efficiency, effectiveness and quality – which goes beyond mere customer satisfaction. Together, these initiatives are leading to an integrated model of government service.  This presentation will describe the work completed to date, as well as activities still under way that will continue to develop these models.

Pille Bunnell– Special Invited Evening Open Lecture

Resilience and Robustness: A Dynamic View of Conservation and Change

Robustness is generally referred to as: the ability of a system to remained unchanged when some aspect of the world external to the system changes, usually rapidly and unexpectedly. Thus, a force may be seen to be resisted. Resilience is generally referred to the ability of a system to recover its integrity or identity after having undergone a change imposed on it from the outside. Both these terms rely on an observer distinguishing a system as such in the first place, and further on choosing what aspects of that system comprise its “core” identity that remains unchanged or is recovered. Both these terms also implicitly assume that some degree of variation in both system and medium is normal, but that some is extraordinary enough to invoke the notion of resistance or recovery. Furthermore, change of any sort implies an observer specified time constant in both the external change and the response of the system. Thus resilience and robustness are both attributions made by the observer under a more or less specified set of expectations.  

In this presentation I will use animations to illustrate some of the systems dynamics that may be implicated in generating the flow of changes that evoke the attributions of resilience and robustness. I intend to make evocative and perhaps poetic reference to the related ideas of conservation, adaptation and evolution. I will conclude with reflections on why we find all these notions relevant and useful to how we live.

 

WEDNESDAY

Debora Hammond

Food Policy for a Resilient Future

In planning for a resilient future, perhaps the most critical issue that needs to be addressed is that of assuring an adequate food supply. In response to an increasing awareness of and concern with food security, many communities have been establishing food policy councils and conducting food assessments in an effort to develop strategies for cultivating a more secure and resilient food system. In parallel with this trend is a growing interest in nurturing and supporting more localized food production, as evidenced in the increasing popularity of farmers markets, school and community gardens, and community supported agriculture. This paper will highlight some of the more exciting developments in this area and explore some implications of these food-related initiatives.

David Waltner Toews

Surfing the Pandemic Wave: Poise, Passion and Managing Insoluble Problems

Health – that aspired-to “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” - is an outcome of how we govern our interactions with social-ecological complexity. Disease is what happens when we fail. Recent disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics are important events on their own terms. However, they are perhaps more important for what they tell us about relationships between how we set and strive for conflicting social goals, and the genetically programmed aspirations of the millions of other amazing species with whom we share the planet. From changing disease patterns we can learn the skills and tools necessary to select and monitor critical changes in our social and natural environments, and to manage our way, quickly, nimbly and intelligently into a sustainable future.

Ron Cottam

Rights, Responsibilities and Resilience, or, Auntie Phyllis and the Bloody Great Fork

The evolution of human societies has been punctuated by a progressive multiplicity of declarations of the rights, which more or less rigidly defined groups of humans, citizens or organisms could claim. The very idea of equilibrium in any dynamic environment depends on a balance between counteracting influences. The United Nations General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 was itself an important step forward, but where is the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities?[The establishment of such a document has indeed been addressed, most recently by the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government, but it remains, unfortunately, without any overt consequences.]

This question of equilibrium is fundamental to any concept of resilience, which although lacking a clear definition for human society as a whole does imply a sense of continuity or temporal sustainability. Sadly, although Spiritually-based movements have long focused on the advisability of pro/contra relational equilibria, Science has traditionally taken a view that the experimenter controls his or her subject, and that the relationship must of pragmatic and philosophic necessity be unidirectional. This imbalance did begin to break down during the twentieth century, with the introduction of quantum theory, but only within limited areas of investigation.

Arguably, a turning point in the drift of global human attention towards recognition of the importance of environmental equilibrium was Rachel Carson’s publication in 1962 of Silent Spring, but it is only comparatively recently that fear of global warming has really begun to exercise our intellect. Fascinatingly, if unsurprisingly, most discussion of this possibly imminent phenomenon focuses on ‘who is to blame’, rather than whether the alleged causes should be addressed independently of whether catastrophe will follow or not.

Science has journeyed onward in an unstated assumption that analysis and synthesis are symmetrical. For an extensiveconsideration of this relationship in the context of living organisms see Robert Rosen’s 1991 book Life Itself: A Comprehensive Inquiry into the Nature, Origin, and Fabrication of Life.

The long-held belief that it will ultimately be possible to establish a Theory of Everything from examination of the properties of elementary particles bears witness to this supposition; the macroscopic complexity of Nature indicates that such a belief is farcical.

Although the more exact sciences have begun to move out of their ‘comfort zone’ of near-equilibrium quasi-linearity by tackling chaos and less-than-deterministic systems, they have yet to meet up with biology coming in the other direction. Inorganic nature can be addressed reasonably successfully by either digital or analog techniques, but life establishes multi-scalar systems based on compromise between the two and on variable relationships between local scalar and global non-scalar characters. Until now this has had very little impact on Science in general, particularly in the present socio-commercial climate where analog is bad and digital is good.

The central issue for any overarching view of Nature, society and of their interaction is one of scale. How does, or should, an individual or group relate to local society in general or to planetary resilience? How do, or should, rights and responsibilities be integrated into a scheme which accepts the complexity of multi-scalar organisms and multi-scalar societies on a multi-scalar planet? This is, or should be, the central theme of any approach to resilience. But should it be a question, which only concerns governance as a top-down ‘leave it to the politicians’ approach? Contextually identified concepts of top-down and bottom-up design or control abound in our surroundings, but neither of them can ever be efficiently viable on its own, nor can the two be simplistically integrated into a mono-rational system for which analysis and synthesis are asymmetrical.

Careful examination of naturally-generated ‘hierarchical’ systems leads to a recognition that purely scale-local organization can never be sufficient to guarantee any form of resilience in the face of either external or internal perturbation, never mind guaranteeing a resilience which can sustain ‘health and happiness’ for a system’s constituent elements. Inter-scalar transit in a multi-scalar system depends on global properties, which themselves depend on local phenomena, whether for an individual or a society.The reader should note that by ‘hierarchical’ we are looking towards systems that are neither uniquely top-down nor bottom-up in their organizational style.

So, it seems that in addressing the resilience of our mono-rational multi-scalar societies, of multi-scalar organisms, on a multi-scalar planet, it would be reasonable to first think carefully about how multi-scalar natural systems operate. Will this be sufficient? No, although it will probably help somewhat. But maybe an important first step would be to address, in our own lives, and therefore at a very small scale, the balance between rights and responsibilities, which will be necessary to support effectiveness of any future governance that, for all our sakes, targets resilient dynamic socio-planetary equilibrium. From small acorns do tall oak trees grow.

 

THURSDAY

Panel: Fear for Sustainability – A Transdisciplinary Approach

Jacob Sperber:Restoring the Positive Functions of Fear

Jeremy Coplan:Have Genetically Fearless Agents Led Us Astray?

Markus Schwaninger:Reframing Fear as a Trigger for Restoring Sustainability

Is fear / anxiety an emotion that inhibits or fosters the sustainability of our planet? To be meaningful this question has to be modified right away: Can fear be a factor for the enhancement of sustainability? If so, how? Fear, if it is pathological, can paralyze. But in its healthy forms, it can stimulate coping behavior.

We are approaching this topic in a trans-disciplinary way: Three disciplinary perspectives bundled by one frame of reference, and are represented by the speakers:

  • Jacob Sperber, psychiatrist, Nassau University Medical Center, New York
  • Jeremy Coplan, neuropsychiatrist, State University of New York, Downstate
  • Markus Schwaninger, social system theorist, University of St. Gallen

Our common frame of reference is the code of system theory. Our assumption is that it is this shared code that provides the concepts, which make the connection between these different "worlds" possible. Therewith, mutual understanding and genuine progress in the collective endeavour should be induced. That symphonic quality is what distinguishes a trans-disciplinary discourse from a merely interdisciplinary exchange.

Restoring the positive functions of fear: Jacob Sperber  

What are the connections between human emotions and public policy?

Addressing such a broad question makes advisable the application of systems theory and cybernetic models because the question involves multiple, intersecting, complex subsystems. The diverse factors influencing human behavior can be modeled as three intersecting, complex subsystems:

  • human behavior in the natural selection system over long periods of time (macro),
  • the ontogenesis (gene by environment) of an individual’s traits for human relatedness (relationship systems) in a single individual's lifetime (micro), and
  • the socio-cultural system context in which they both occur (meso).

The elusive character of human fear derives in part from the fact that the neurocircuits which modulate fear reactions and fear-based behaviors evolved in the very long-term, macro system level of evolution. The circuits give rise, however, to patterned behaviors as the expression of temperament and personality traits of the individual, in relation to stressors in the individual’s current social context.

By application of systems and cybernetic perspectives, we can clearly demonstrate how many of our predominant individual traits and social patterns are “accidental” and not the product of purposeful biologic or cultural progress. We can then confront the need for critical reappraisal of our fears and for systems-based social policies. Specifically, we can construct an integrated understanding of current manifestations of fearfulness as useful warnings about the dangers of non-sustainable policy trends, and of fearlessness as irrational disregard of crucial alarms.

Have genetically fearless agents led us astray? Jeremy Coplan

Based on comparison of cranial shapes and corresponding neural morphometry, we will argue that compared to Neandertals, humans evolved a brain well suited for high cortical connectivity with less restraint of emotions, which may underlie human creativity but also excess anxiety or impulsivity. In humans, our data suggest that high intelligence co-evolved with high anxiety in some, and with minimal anxiety in others with white matter as one plausible neural substrate. Inherited traits that favor involuntary imposition of evolved avoidance behavioral patterns, may limit potentially dangerous social contact or situations with implications for evolved sustainability. However, loosened cortical restraint of emotional centers may have laid the groundwork for a neural substrate of human imagination through relative independence of cortical and limbic representations of salient environmental stimuli. Coupled with high intelligence, the impulsive phenotype, stripped of anxious cognitions, may, through errant failure to detect danger, risk the sustainability of the entire society. Serotonin-related genes in primates may provide a basis for dichotomous anxious phenotypes with behavioral and neurobiological correlates.

Reframing fear as a trigger for restoring sustainability: Markus Schwaninger

Can fear contribute to a sustainable world? It will be shown that humanity may find its way out of the crisis with the help of fear. The point is that the crisis is not an economic one; it is a more sophisticated pattern than the economists tend to assume: This is a systemic crisis, and that is what makes it intractable. The causal structure underlying the behaviors, which are manifest in different domains, of which the economy is only one, is a network of multiple causalities which act in loops, show delays and are not very sensitive to parameter changes. That implies that the system itself generates the instabilities, in simple words: the mess is "homemade". The system that is in crisis now, is made up in a way that crises must occur, again and again. A closer look shows that the economic, social and ecological spheres are not at all separate. They are intertwined, which makes most policies obsolete. Fear per se is not the best advisor, but the adaptive function of fear can trigger new collective behaviors toward sustainability, as will be demonstrated with the help of a System Dynamics model.

Finally the loop will be closed, by a joint, synthetic statement of the three speakers.

Ranulph Glanville

Design, Systems and Cybernetics

In this presentation, I will explore some similarities and differences between design, systems and cybernetics, in order to learn something of the mutuality between them, and to better understand how design (reflected in the cybernetic concept of conversation), in particular, can offer a distinct way of looking at the world and of approaching problems to those we have recently assumed are universal. I will also explore some of the conditions surrounding this approach, which require both a particular type of behaviour, and a different way of valuing the outcome than it often thought to be the only possibility, nowadays.

 

FRIDAY

Susan Gabriele

The ISSS Roundtable at 10 Years

This is our tenth year to convene the Daily Morning Reflection RoundTable during the annual weeklong conference of the International Society of Systems Sciences. As the designer, I feel very privileged to have been welcomed by you, and to have found a home with you for myself, and for my labor of love, the Reflection RoundTable. At this time, I will take a few minutes to revisit our journey and look toward the future in six steps.

Where we started. Our first ISSS Morning RoundTable was at Asilomar in 1999. It followed a pilot study at ACC/ISI (the Asilomar Conversation Community affiliate of the International Systems Intitute) under the tutelage of Bela Banathy Senior.

What we started. We used a RoundTable Guide or script composed of inspirational and informational short texts– Facilitator Guide, Our Format, Our Purposes, and Guidelines for Listening, Responding and Speaking. Each day, we read these aloud for five minutes. The leader of the day then suggested a topic. This left 55 minutes for individual comments and reflections—time distributed among all equally.

Why we started. This format was very compelling and appealing as a potential new tool for accelerated learning, community building and systemic renewal of social systems. In a nutshell, we believe and our experience supports that: Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 30+ authentic viewpoints in 55 minutes.

Where we are today. Today, we have held a total of ten weeklong morning RoundTables at ISSS. In the RoundTable format, We have added a new short text to read aloud, Our Social Systems Theory Rationale. Also, others have been willing to host in my absence. I appreciated Janet McIntyre, who was RoundTable host in Australia.

Proposed next steps.  Perhaps we can go to Phase 2. In other words, we can replace the introductory readings with some ISSS readings, e.g., Origin and Purpose of the ISSS, Our Logo, taken from our ISSS website.

Taking it home. It would please me to help any of you add RoundTables back home in your workplaces, schools and communities. Don’t hesitate to contact me!

Ockie Bosch

Report from Special Workshops on Designing Systems Education: Systems Thinkers Think about Systems Education under the Austrian (Ash) Clouds

The fragmented nature of systems education with multiple traditions, expressed in very different ways at different institutions, led to a group of Systems Thinkers to discuss and create generic curricula for education and learning about systems for the generalist and specialist tracks. An active network of systems educators and stakeholders who can benefit from enhanced systems education in having to deal with complex issues, was also explored. In this presentation some guidelines for designing introductory and advanced courses will be discussed. The Introduction to Systemic Thinking and Practice course is intended as an introductory course for students from all disciplines. The Advanced Systemic Thinking and Practice course is intended as a more advanced course for students who are faced with complex issues that require a trans-disciplinary and integrated approach. The designs contain a set of key systems concepts and frameworks relevant to the appropriate level, along with some indicative tools and methods, which will enable students to explore the concepts. The value of a Global Network of Systems Educators will also be discussed and how this network could help to fulfil the needs of managers, policy makers and society in general. An example will be given of how the integration of this network with the UQ-UNESCO/MAB Global Learning Laboratories NET could lead to the ability of more people (decision- and policy makers in Governments, managers, planners, businesses, etc.) could practice systems thinking in establishing Learning Labs for managing complex issues – all of these contributing to Systems Thinking becoming a more mainstream part of a sustainable society.

Nicholas Magliocca

Report and presentations from Student SIG

Challenges facing today's researchers and practitioners may be very different in scale, timing, and nature, but all have one thing in common: complexity. Systems science and thinking provides the tools necessary to manage the complexity of today's problems. Although systems approaches and systemic thinking are gaining wider acceptance, it is not always clear how to integrate systems ideas into everyday research and practice. This can be particularly true for students and/or researchers new to systems science and thinking. The experiences of the Student SIG in this week will be presented, reporting ongoing discussions centered around challenges that participants have faced in integrating systems approaches into their own research and/or practice, any systems theories they have found particularly useful, and ways to harmonize systems approaches with more conventional modes of thinking and research.

Alexander and Kathia Castro Laszlo

Report of the SIG Discussions

This year, the ISSS Reception will include a facilitated introduction to the society and opportunities to meet and talk with the leaders of individual SIGs. We asked SIG Chairs, to familiarize themselves with the plan for this session and come prepared for lively interaction to build bridges across the research domains represented by their SIGs.

The session was designed to accomplish two primary objectives:

  • to share with Conference Participants information about each SIG from their respective Chairs in an open and interactive setting, and
  • to stimulate cross-pollination and the interpenetration of ideas among and between the SIGs

This plenary session will report on the results of this activity!

Jennifer Wilby

More than the Sum of the Parts – Invitation and Presentation for ISSS2011