Waterloo 2010

54th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada

July 18-23, 2010

Governance for a Resilient Planet

The 2010 Conference of the International Society for Systems Sciences will be held July 18-23 at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario Canada.  

Waterloo is a high tech center with Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, and the Centre for International Governance Innovation in town and Guelph University nearby. It is also home to a number of high tech companies; notably Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry mobile phone/PDA.

This year’s theme is “Governance for a Resilient Planet”. Governance issues are among the greatest challenges we face in a rapidly changing world. Providers of public and private services and products are operating in shifting contexts and must learn to adapt quickly to become or remain resilient. Their governance structures need to adapt too so that they enable rather than impede adaptation. Adaptation includes the ability to:

  • recognize patterns across fields
  • develop approaches that challenge exiting assumptions and set out new criteria for measuring progress
  • build models to test alternative scenarios and explanations
  • provide methodologies to integrate multiple perspectives, and
  • incorporate qualitative as well as quantitative measures in their frameworks.

The Conference will offer wide ranging and stimulating professional education opportunities for anyone who is looking for new insights that will help to reformulate and respond to the challenges of their work. There are many opportunities to network and come to know other practitioners whose work overlaps in unexpected ways with their own.

Wilfrid Laurier University is a compact campus with most facilities within one large block. Conference sessions will be held in the new academic building. Reasonably priced dormitory apartment accommodation is available within a couple of minutes walk of the conference location. Apartments consist of a shared living room and kitchen facility and four bedrooms sharing two baths. The dining hall is a short walk across the quad. Rates will be reasonable – around $55-60 per night, including breakfast, and there will also be reasonably-priced standard hotel accommodation available nearby.

Waterloo is about 70 miles from Toronto and is served by Pearson International Airport (YYZ) for international and long distance flights and by a Waterloo local airport for short haul flights. Shuttle buses from Pearson Airport are available.

We encourage those interested in attending the conference to submit an abstract for a full paper or poster, or organize a workshop or other event, and begin working with us in creating this important event.

We look forward to seeing you in Waterloo,

Dr Allenna Leonard, President 2009-10


Confirmed Plenary Guest Speakers -- MORE DETAILS

  • Michael Ben-Eli - New York, NY, USA
  • Pille Bunnell - Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Ron Cottam – Brussels, Belgium
  • Ranulph Glanville - Portsmouth, UK
  • Stephen Haines - San Diego, CA, USA
  • Debora Hammond - Sonoma, CA, USA
  • Thomas Homer-Dixon – Guelph, ON, Canada
  • Javier Livas – Monterrey, NL, Mexico
  • Fredmund Malik – St Gallen, Switzerland
  • Alanna Mitchell – Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Markus Schwaninger St. Gallen, Switzerland
  • Mark Van Clief - Burlington, ON, Canada
  • David Waltner-Toews – Guelph, ON, Canada
  • Alan Willis – Mississauga, ON, Canada

Important Dates

  • January 1, 2010: The start of abstract submission and registration. Instructions for Preparing and Submitting Abstracts and Papers are available.  (Please allow at least two weeks for your abstract to be reviewed.) Please note that the login userid and password to  journals.isss.org is independent of the userid and password on the ISSS World web site.
  • January 1, 2010: On-line registration begins. Off-line paper registrations (by post and fax) will still be available by contacting the ISSS office. Accommodation details will be added shortly; these will be arranged either by booking directly with the University accommodation office, or by you contacting individual local hotels (a list will be provided).
  • March 1, 2010: The deadline for panel, workshop and stream proposals.
  • April 30, 2010: The end of early, discounted registration.
  • May 30, 2010: (EXTENDED) The deadline for full papers. Only ONE submission per registered participant will be accepted for the conference. Late papers may still be accepted for the conference after May 15, 2010, but will be published on the CD-ROM proceedings for the following year (2011).
  • June 15, 2010   (EXTENDED) The final deadline for abstracts, recognising that abstracts may not be developed into full papers for this conference. Only ONE abstract per registered participant will be accepted for the conference. However, if late papers are developed, they may be published on the next year's CDROM proceedings. Late abstracts may be accepted on a space available basis.
  • June 15, 2010. (EXTENDED) The deadline for poster abstract submission. Posters are exempt from the one abstract/paper submission rule. Poster abstracts are submitted in the same way as paper abstracts, and after abstract acceptance, should be prepared and brought in person to the Conference where space will have been assigned for you to display and discuss your work. Late posters may be accepted on a space available basis.


Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, Canada.

Social Programs

There will be a welcome reception on Sunday evening, July 18. The conference banquet will be held on Thursday, July 22. 

Registration Rates

Registration fees to be announced.

The registration fee includes:

  • The program/abstract book
  • 2010 CD-ROM proceedings
  • Reception on Sunday July 18
  • One banquet ticket for Thursday July 22
  • ISSS membership fees for 2011

The registration fees also includes tea/coffee breaks and lunches from Monday to Thursday.

The registration fee does not cover accommodation or transportation expenses to and from the conference site.

Accommodation ranges from very well appointed dormitary rooms to mid- and upper-range hotels.


  • See details on: Conference Committee Page

Quick Links:

Speakers for ISSS2010 - Waterloo



Download the FULL PROGRAM AND ABSTRACT BOOK: Caution 15GB!! (being uploaded July 10)


Saturday, July 17th

All Day -- 10 am to 5 pm Workshops

Helping to make Systems Mainstream: Bringing Bayesian Networks to the World - Ockie Bosch and Carl Smith, University of Queensland, Australia. Please bring your own laptop to fully participate in this workshop.

1 pm to 4 pm

System Theory and the Mind - The concentration and purification technique for our mind as taught by Buddha, a mental healthcare protection program for the harmonic governance for a resilient planet. Led by Thomas Wong


Sunday, July 18th

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 9 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

All Day -- 10 am to 4 pm Workshops

Modeling Support for Disaster Prevention and Recovery - Systemic Challenges for First Responders - Gerhard Chroust

Vester Sensitivity Modeling - Gabriele Harrar, Fredmund Malik Management Centre. Bring your own laptop to fully participate in this workshop.

Helping to make Systems Mainstream: Bringing Bayesian Networks to the World - as above - (finishes at 12:30 pm)

1 pm to 4 pm

Global Governance and a World Without War, Ken Burkhardt, Global Issues Project of Science for Peace, and Pugwash Canada

Traditional Chinese Medicine Healthcare Protection Program, Thomas Wong

6 pm to 9 pm

ISSS 2010 Welcome Reception and SIG Activities
Facilitated by Alexander and Kathia Castro Laszlo


Monday, July 19th - Conference Opens

All tea and coffee breaks will be held in the Bricker Academic Building, ground floor.

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 8:45 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

9 AM - Morning plenary talks, Bricker Academic Bldg, Room 101

12:30 Lunch

1:30 - 5:30 pm: Paper sessions and workshops

Special Evening Open Lecture - 7 pm to 8:30 pm

Michael Ben-Eli: Rethinking Everything


Tuesday, July 20th

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 8:45 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

9 AM - Morning plenary talks, Bricker Academic Bldg, Room 101

  • Thomas Homer-Dixon: Exploring the Adjacent Possible: Scenario Development for a Resilient Future

  • 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

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

  • Ron Wiseman: Measuring Citizen Satisfaction

1:30 - 5:30 pm: Paper sessions and workshops

Special Evening Open Lecture - 7 pm to 8:30 pm

Pille Bunnell: Resilience and Robustness: A Dynamic View of Conservation and Change


Wednesday, July 21st

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 8:45 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

9 AM - Morning plenary talks, Bricker Academic Bldg, Room 101

  • Debora Hammond: Food Policy for a Resilient Future

  • David Waltner-Toews: Surfing the Pandemic Wave: Poise, Passion and Managing Insoluble Problems

  • Ron Cottam: Rights, Responsibilities and Resilience, or, Auntie Phyllis and the Bloody Great Fork

1:30 - 5:30 pm: Paper sessions and workshops

Evening Activities

7 - 8 pm, EcoPolicy Game Demonstration, It's a cyberbetic world -- play your way to a new understanding of our complex world!  Room 110, Bricker Academic Bldg

7 - 8 pm, ISSS Council, Room TBA

8:15 - onwards, Past President's Fireside Chat, Campus Pub


Thursday, July 22nd

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 8:45 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

9 AM - Morning plenary talks, Bricker Academic Bldg, Room 101

  • 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
  • Ranulph Glanville: Design, Systems and Cybernetics

1:30 - 5:30 pm: Paper sessions and workshops

7 pm to 10 pm

ISSS Conference Dinner - Turret Room, Wilfrid Laurier University


Friday, July 23rd

ISSS Roundtable 7:45 am to 8:45 am, Bricker Residence Lounge, ground floor

9 AM - Morning plenary talks, ISSS AGM, Bricker Academic Bldg, Room 101

  • The ISSS Roundtable at 10 Years, Susan Farr Gabriele

  • Systems Thinkers Think about Systems Education under the Austrian (Ash) Clouds, Ockie Bosch, Report of the Systems Education Workshops 2008-2010

  • Report and Feedback Presentations by Student SIG, Nicholas Magliocca

  • Invitation and Incoming President Presentation for ISSS2011, Jennifer Wilby

  • Feedback on SIG Conversations, Alexander and Kathia Laszlo

  • ISSS AGM Meeting

12:30 - Official Conference Close

Afternoon - Free for self-organizing discussions

Important Dates 2010


Conference Important Dates

January 1, 2010 The start of abstract and paper submissions, using the Journals on-line submission site. (Please allow at least two weeks for your abstract to be reviewed.)
January 1, 2010 The start of registration. Registration and payment facilities will be available on-line. Off-line paper registrations (by post and fax) will still be available through contact with the ISSS office.
March 1, 2010 The deadline for panel, workshop and stream proposals.
April 30, 2010 The end of early, discounted registration.
May 15, 2010 The deadline for full papers. Late papers may still be accepted for the conference after May 1, 2010, but will be published on the CD-ROM proceedings for the subsequent year (2011). Only ONE paper will be accepted from each registered participant.
June 1, 2010 The deadline for abstracts, recognizing that some abstracts will not be developed into full papers. Late abstracts may still be accepted for the conference after May 15, 2010, but only if space is available for presentation. Papers developed from late abstracts may be published on the CD-ROM proceedings for the subsequent year (2011). Only one paper will be accepted from each registered participant.
June 1, 2010 The deadline for poster abstract submission. Posters are exempt from the one abstract/paper submission rule. Poster abstracts are submitted in the same way as paper abstracts, and after abstract acceptance, should be prepared and brought in person to the Conference where space will have been assigned for you to display and discuss your work. Late posters may be accepted on a space available basis.
July 17 and 18, 2010 Pre-Conference Activities: Systems Education Workshops, Systems Tutorials, details to be posted shortly.
July 18-23, 2010 Conference 2010 (Conference registration, workshops and welcome gathering on July 18, 2010).
July 24, 2010 Post-Conference Activities: ... details to come shortly... IFSR workshop.


Panels and Workshops at ISSS Meeting Waterloo

Workshops Saturday and Sunday, July 17-18.


Workshop 1: Helping to make Systems Mainstream: Bringing Bayesian Networks to the World

Saturday July 17, 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday July 18, 10 am to 12:30 p.m., Bricker Academic Building

Bayesian networks are now used throughout the world as a systems modeling tool within a range of industries including health sciences, engineering, business and finance, information technology, mining and exploration, forensic science, environmental and resource management and social sciences. The popularity of Bayesian networks is spreading due to their flexibility, ability to integrate quantitative and qualitative data, and information (including experiential knowledge), ability to accommodate uncertainty and ability to support decision making through scenario analysis. Researchers use them to integrate knowledge and scientific understanding about systems, whilst managers use them as decision support tools and to improve the performance of systems that they are managing.

DBL Interactive is a new decision support toolkit, developed by the University of Queensland, designed to allow researchers and managers to create and share Bayesian network models online, over the internet. It is specifically designed to support the collaborative development of decision support tools using Bayesian networks and the delivery of those tools to users anywhere in the world.

Dr Carl Smith and Professor Ockie Bosch from the School of Integrative Systems at The University of Queensland in Australia will run a preconference workshop to demonstrate the features of this systems thinking toolkit. You will learn how easy it is to develop a model, and how you can use the toolkit for participatory systems analysis, unravelling a complex issue and develop a system that can be used for decision making, scenario testing or understanding the system better.

Who can benefit?

  • Students from all disciplinary backgrounds
  • Researchers involved in any area of interest, environment, agriculture and land management, to business, social systems, engineering, health sciences and organizational development.
  • Systems thinkers dealing with complex issues
  • Consultants

Be there!

This is a unique tool for systems thinkers and a unique opportunity to learn about the background theory and how to use it directly from the developers.

Attending the workshop only: $90
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.



Workshop 2: ”Vester Sensitivity Modelling”

Sunday, July 18, 10 am to 4 pm, Bricker Adademic Bldg, Room 111

“Vester Sensitivity Modelling” allows Holistic Capturing and Understanding of Interrelationships and Their Cybernetic Patterns. Its Biocybernetic Orientation Guides the User Towards the Development of Resilient Systems.

The complex problems and dynamic changes of our global environment – nature, technology, economy and humanity - are strongly interconnected. In order to understand these manifold interdependencies the systemic understanding of their behaviour is required. New methodologies help integrating the different perspectives to cope with a rapidly changing world. Building system models allows finding out how a system functions and how it can be designed towards adaptability and robustness in order to create resilience.

Prof. Frederic Vester (1925-2003), the German Systems Researcher, Biocybernetician and Member of the Club of Rome, has developed his “Sensitivity Model” in continuous feedback with management and planning projects. This user friendly instrument helps managers, planners and politicians and individuals to build up system models for all kinds of complex systems. Carried out manually or with its computerized tools, the methodology offers a systemic and systematic guideline. Gabriele Harrer, 18 years collaborator of Frederic Vester has wide experience in many applications of the Sensitivity Model. Her workshop gives an introduction and practical exercise of the main steps of building up a System Model in short time. With an objective and structured process the participants are building up a valid and understandable system model which answers the following questions:

What is the System in Focus? What are the main and system relevant variables and influence factors? How strong are the interconnections? What are the feedback cycles and what do they tell us about the cybernetic behaviour of the system? What is his the pattern of the system? How do internal or external changes affect its robustness or sensitivity? Where are the white spots? Will the planned measures guide towards a viable and resilient system? 

The participants can follow these guidelines directly in their practical field of interest.

The workshop will give also an outlook in the experiences of Malik Management combining the Sensitivity Model with Stafford Beers “Syntegration“ and “Viable System Model“.

Gabriele Rosa Maria Harrer. 1957. Dipl. Geologist. 1985-2005 close collaboration with Frederic Vester in application and development of the computerized tools of the “Vester Sensitivity Model”. Since 2006 Senior Systems Expert, Malik Management, St. Gallen. Research and practical projects around the “Sensitivity Model Prof. Vester“. Various lecturing activities. 


Attending the workshop only: $90
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.


Workshop 3: Global Governance and a World Without War

Sunday, July 18, 1 - 4 p.m. Bricker Academic Building, Room 110

A pre-conference workshop of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) on Sunday, 1 pm to 4 pm, July 18, 2010, in the Bricker Academic Building, Room 110, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3C5

War is an ever increasing global problem for several reasons.  While the military traditionally was for security, the number, strength, speed and accuracy of delivery of today’s weapons make defense difficult if not impossible, and therefore the weapons available to armies or terrorists create insecurity. The cost of these potent weapons and of the defense against them is prohibitive, and the environmental damage of a war is unacceptable too.  Therefore, security through armed peace is no longer an option. Unfortunately, the misconception of security through strength still prevails. In reality, security does not depend on the military strength itself, but on the difference in military strength between opponents.  Thus, the quest for security through being stronger than the opponent is the intrinsic cause for the deadly arms race.     

History shows that security is possible through the force of law. Governed entities often have an acceptable level of internal peace.  Municipalities, non-failed states, and more recently the multinational entity of the European Union demonstrate that humans can live in peace within properly governed entities.  This workshop will seek to show how available global communication and transport technology could make global governance and, through it, global peace feasible.  Using systemic analysis, the societal architecture required for global governance supplying global legislation, jurisprudence, and executive needs will be explored, and recommendations for reforms of the UN system will be developed.

Co-sponsors of this workshop:

  • The Global Issues Project of Science for Peace and the Canadian Pugwash
  • International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
  • Project Ploughshares (to be confirmed)
  • World Federalist Movement - Canada
  • UN Association of Canada (to be confirmed)
  • ISSS Systemic Approaches to Conflict and Crises SIG
  • ISSS Living Systems Analysis (to be confirmed)

All participants at the ISSS meeting, members of the co-sponsoring societies and of the general public are invited to participate and to contribute short statements of their ideas on the topic.  A pre-conference workshop blog will carry statements submitted in electronic form.  Admission to the workshop is free for those registered for the ISSS Conference.  A special registration fee of $ 30 is available to those not registered in the full ISSS Conference.  For more information contact:

Helmut Burkhardt (Global Issues Project Science for Peace/Pugwash)   Helmut.Burkhardt@bell.net,) or 

Dennis Finlayson (ISSS) dfinlaysonworld@yahoo.co.uk

Attending the workshop only: $30
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.



Workshop 4: Modeling Support for Disaster Prevention and Recovery - Systemic Challenges for First Responders

Sunday, July 18, 10am to 4pm.

Motivation for the Workshop: Natural and man made disasters have always threatened people. In the last decades both the awareness of threats and the occurrence of actual disasters (many of them man-made or at least triggered by human activities) has grown.

  • Today’s disasters usually endanger considerable more persons and larger areas in more diversified ways.
  • Society has a basic interest to ensure that its environment behaves like a dependable system (providing safety, reliability, availability, security, maintainability, survivability, etc.). This implies the necessity of avoiding, eliminating or at least mitigating the negative impacts of disasters in order to re-establish dependability as fast as possible.
  • In today’s complex world a holistic, systemic approach is needed for training and supporting First Responders (i.e. fire brigades, ambulance services, police forces) with respect to interventions in the case of incidents.

Workshop objective: In this workshop we will try to identify methods, best practices and software tools which are helpful in training and supporting First Responders.

We intend to look at the problems of training and interventions in a systemic way, considering all types of stakeholders with respect to both short time and long-term issues and problems.

Prime application of software tools will be the modeling of scenarios and environments, simulating disasters and reactions, providing simulation-based training, and using the predictive power of simulation in real disaster interventions.

Key targeted technologies will be System Dynamics tools and Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality systems but other techniques should also be included.

We will correlate the proposed methods and tools to the needs of First Responders (an initial list of needs will be supplied to registered participants of the workshop).

We hope to include in this workshop participants from many different fields, from First Responders, from computer experts, psychologists, human factor specialists, etc.

Attending the workshop only: $30
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.




Workshop 5: System theory and our mind - the concentration and purification technique for our mind as taught by Buddha, a mental healthcare protection program for the harmonic governance for a resilient planet

Saturday, 17th July, 1 to 4 pm, Bricker Academic Bldg. Room 112

We use our body to experience the world around us but our mind is the one who is observing and making the decisions to change the world. System theory sees the world composed of the observer, the decision maker, the system, the environment, the boundary and the relationships between them. And there are two opposite forces in the world that constantly interacting with each other, creating the flow of energy, matter and information between systems and the environment. On one hand we have the disorder force governed by the second law of thermodynamics that drive everything into a equilibrium state with maximum entropy. On the other hand we have the organizational force governed by the constrains of a system that drive the system into a particular steady state with a low entropy.

Our mind are both the observer and the decision maker with a major problem. Throughout our life we have been looking for sanctification that brings happiness. Our government have been relying on economics to achieve this but 80% of the time we are dis-satisfied with the people and situations around us, bringing craving, aversion and ignorance into our minds and creating all sorts of problems in our society. This is called suffering in the teaching of Buddha, and he offered us with a three step solution for our mind. In this workshop we investigate the systemic view of these three step namely self protection, concentration and purification of our mind.
Death is the end of our lives or just the beginning of another new life? A system undergoes a transition of system state during death, but will the system continue in other forms at another places? Or will it just terminate totally? What are the possible new system states and are they sustainable? In this workshop we will investigate the sustainability of Heaven, Hell, Earth and Nibbana (null). And we investigate the way to prepare ourselves to transit into these states.
The governance of materialism around us are achieved through economics, and the governance of materialism within us are achieved through healthcare. The governance of spiritualism around us are achieved through religion, but how about the governance of spiritualism within us (our mind and mental contents)? We investigate a 10-day Vipassana mental healthcare program for people of all religions including scientific communities. It is believed such a program could bring happiness, peacefulness and harmony for our community.

Led by: Thomas S L Wong and Yan Huang, Ancient Balance Medicine Education Ctr Ltd, Ancient Balance Medicine Research Institute, 1103 Fortune Ctr, 48 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay, HK, Hong Kong.ISSS@EC-Balance.org

Attending the workshop only: $30
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.



Workshop 6: Traditional Chinese Medicine Healthcare Protection Program - a possible missing component in the systemic thinking of the health governance for a resilient planet

Sunday, July 18th, 1 - 4 pm, Bricker Academic Building, Room 112
Reductionism was the major scientific view before world war II, its development leads to industrial revolution and modern medicine. Traditional medicine like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, and Western Herbal Medicine was then considered as alternative medicine because they are seem incompatible with reductionism and allopathic medicine. However, reductionism was found to be a incomplete scientific view after world war II and a more holistic scientific view was developed namely system theory.
Systemic thinking is to consider both the system and the environment when analyzing or maintaining a system, or its environment. When analyzing a particular component within a system, all other components should be considered as well.

Traditional medicine has been analyzed with the incomplete scientific theory for logical explanations of its medical theory and practice, resulting in confusion and misunderstanding. This workshop will demonstrate a method to use system theory to investigate the holistic nature of a particular traditional medicine namely Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is believed that all other traditional and alternative medicine could be better understood in this holistic scientific view of system theory. The Taichi Yin-Yang system theory was developed when combining both the traditional Chinese thinking and the systemic thinking. Taichi is considered as the organizational force in the universe, and the Yin-Yang combo is considered as the log2 information gathering process, the current state determination process, and the steady state regulation process.
According to the Taichi Yin-Yang system theory, the Taichi(Yin, Yang) structure should be used in all analysis. The possible analysis of health system are:

  • Health(physical, mental) - the Cold-Hot spectrum
  • Health(chronic, acute) - the Deficient-Excess spectrum
  • Health(external hygiene protection, internal healthcare protection) - the Superficial-Internal spectrum

Our resilient planet produced lots of complicated health problems but our government did not have a holistic healthcare system. This workshop will demonstrate a possible solution to the missing component of the healthcare system, namely Traditional Chinese Medicine Healthcare Protection Program which is simple and effective for promoting in the community. Helping the poor with money will never be enough, but helping the poor to make money themselves is a more permanent solution and may even have a positive feedback to the helper. A internal healthcare program should teach the community how to take up the responsibility of their own health in a simple and effective manner. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Healthcare Protection Program composed of three components:

  • the TCM diet on how to choose food from the Cold-Hot food spectrum,
  • the TCM Taichi exercise therapy on how to regulate our body and Chi (Qi) from the fully Open-Close movement spectrum,
  • the TCM 24h healthcare lifestyle on how to use our health wisely for work and fun from the Human-Environment spectrum.Led by: Thomas S L Wong and Yan Huang, Ancient Balance Medicine Education Ctr Ltd, Ancient Balance Medicine Research Institute, 1103 Fortune Ctr, 48 Yun Ping Rd, Causeway Bay, HK, Hong Kong.ISSS@EC-Balance.org

Attending the workshop only: $30
Attending as part of the full ISSS conference: no additional cost.



Workshop 7: Ecopolicy - It's a Cybernetic World... Play your way to a new understanding of our complex world.

Wednesday evening, 7 - 8 pm, Bricker Academic Bldg 110, no cost to all participants

The simulation- and strategy game was conceived by the German biocybernetician and environmental pioneer Frederic Vester as a contribution to the necessity of understanding the processes in complex systems.

It makes the player governor in a fantasy land called Cybernetia. The country is represented by eight areas of life - as politics, production, environmental stress, quality of life, education and population. With their interlinkages by dynamic relations it shows that many things which we see separated are in fact interconnected. Often the unknown relations are more important as the things themselves.

Each decision of the player results in chains of effects and repercussions just as in real life. By getting acquainted with pattern recognition and a parallel processing of the interconnected levels of our reality, the player experiences how to develop relevant & future oriented decisions in order to achieve resilient systems.

Last but not least, it's also fun. Illustrations, animations and music lead to the emotional message the game is supposed to fulfil.

For a few years, the software has been used in a Germany wide school contest, the  “ecopolicyade”, founded by engaged teachers. In 2009/2010 over 90,000 students participated, with finals in the German Parliament. The contest will be extended internationally, supported by Malik Management.

Fredmund Malik: "With the ecopolicyade, a new generation of system-thinkers grows up. Our aim is to enable all children, but also politicians and manager, to learn to understand and to master complexity. Introducing a broad public to the findings of cybernetics is the basis for control and management of our society towards viability."


Panel Discussion Session: Social Innovation Generation, in conjunction with the Canadian Resilience Alliance Network

Dan McCarthy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Social Innovation Generation /
Department of Environment and Resources Studies, University of Waterloo
E-mail: dmccarth@uwaterloo.ca, Telephone: 519-888-4567 ext. 33065

At Social Innovation Generation, University of Waterloo (SiG@Waterloo), our goal is to generate new knowledge about social innovations and the social innovation process in Canada. In particular, the dynamics of learning, adaptation and innovation for fostering resilience in linked social-ecological systems. We will seek to disseminate new knowledge through publications and learning events from graduate programs to lecture series developed inside and outside the university research community.  

This panel will also include discussion of the work of the Canadian Resilience Alliance Network (CANRANET). CANRANET is an emerging node in the international Resilience Alliance (RA) made up of some 30 researchers and practitioners from across the country.  The intent of CANRANET is to provide fora for Canadian resilience researchers and practitioners to exchange data, information and knowledge on theory and practice of resilience as well as to bring a uniquely Canadian perspective to the concept of resilience.  

Social innovation is an initiative, product, process or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of any social system. Successful social innovations have durability and broad impact. While social innovation has recognizable stages and phases, achieving durability and scale is a dynamic process that requires both emergence of opportunity and deliberate agency, and a connection between the two. The capacity of any society to create a steady flow of social innovations, particularly those which re-engage vulnerable populations, is an important contributor to the overall social and ecological resilience.  

The proposed ISSS 2010 panel/stream will present key conceptual advancements in understanding the dynamics of social innovation, based primarily on Panarchy theory (Gunderson and Holling, 2002) and resilience thinking (Walker and Salt, 2006), and using detailed empirical case studies. Papers in the proposed panel/session will focus on the role of innovation in fostering system resilience, the issue of scale in the social innovation dynamic and social entrepreneurship etc., and papers on a critical, social science review of resilience; Canadian case studies of resilience assessment; and the relationship between resilience and social innovation. 



Registration Waterloo 2010

Online Payment

On-line registration for all categories and payment options for Waterloo 2010 delegates is available by following this link: OnLine Registration

PLEASE NOTE: This online registration system is for conference participants ONLY, i.e. those people coming to the conference and participating in the conference. If you are trying to register for the sole purpose of obtaining a Visa or Invite Letter to circumvent immigration regulations, with no intention of participating, we will not respond and will delete any attempts to register.

Offline Payment

An alternative to online registration is available by downloading the registration form and:

  • mailing this form to the address stated on the form
  • emailing the form as an attachment to isssoffice@dsl.pipex.com, or
  • faxing this form to +44 1759 302718 to the ISSS office.

The Conference Registration Form can be downloaded as an Acrobat document, or as a Microsoft Word document. A signature for credit card charges is required if using these forms.

If you need an invoice for payment by your institution, please contact the ISSS office at isssoffice@dsl.pipex.com

If you require a letter of invitation for your institution or for visa requirements, please also contact the ISSS office at isssoffice@dsl.pipex.com   Please note that all such requests will be checked to establish your identity and intention to participate and will only be processed for those with accepted conference papers.

Registration Rates

  Payment by April 30, 2010 Payment from May 1, 2010
Regular $495 USD $595 USD
Retired $425 USD $495 USD
Developing Country $425 USD $495 USD
Student $295 USD $375 USD
Accompanying partner/spouse $185 USD $185 USD
One-day Registration $125 USD $125 USD
Two-day Registration $235 USD $235 USD
Three-day Registration $335 USD $335 USD

Day registration rates include attendance at all sessions, lunch and coffee breaks on that day, conference program, and CDROM proceedings. Tickets for the Sunday reception are an additional $25, and for the Thursday evening conference dinner $50. When registering, choose to purchase additional reception or banquet ticket.
A maximum of one abstract/paper will be accepted for the conference.

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Speaker 2010 Abstracts


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.



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.



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.



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.



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

Speakers 2010

Accommodation Waterloo

University Accommodation

Accommodation (bed and continental breakfast) will be available at the University in the Bricker Residence.

Bricker Residence was opened in the fall of 1991, providing an alternative to traditional style double rooms found in other residences. All rooms in Bricker are arranged in apartment-style fashion.

There are four single bedrooms in each apartment unit. Each apartment has two full baths, as well as a common kitchen, living and dining room. The kitchen is furnished with a fridge and stove. The units are fully furnished, with the exception of small kitchen appliances and dishes.Linens and towels are provided.  A mid-week towel exchange will be available for guests. 

Bricker is also accessible to the physically challenged and has facilities for these guests on the ground floor. Other facilities include laundry rooms with coin-operated machines, and a study room. A games room is located on the main floor with a billiard table, and a large common lounge.

The cost per night, bed and breakfast, for a single room with shared bathroom, will be $61.29 per night (Canadian dollars). There is a one-time charge of $5 for registration.

The cost per night, bed and breakfast, for a single room with private bathroom, will be $112.37 per night (Canadian dollars). There is a one-time charge of $5 for registration.

Booking will be managed by Wilfrid Laurier University, not ISSS. To book accommodation please click here: Accommodation Booking for ISSS2010

Further details can be seen at  http://mylaurier.ca/residence/info/resbldgs/wluresidences/buildings_bricker.htm

Other Accommodation Options

Other accommodation options are local hotels, motels and guest houses. Some links follow, although no rates or recommendations have been made by ISSS.

A list of lodgings is available at the following local tourist information site: CLICK HERE

HotelsCombined - International Conference Support Program

You’ll find a variety of accommodation options in Waterloo.

HotelsCombined.com provides an accommodation price comparison search engine and is offering a 10% rebate all participants attending the 54th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2010.

For further information on their conference rebate program and to claim your rebate directly please CLICK HERE

You can start searching for your preferred hotel in Waterloo here: SEARCH HERE

Travel to Waterloo

Waterloo, Ontario

Waterloo Region is the best of all worlds. It includes the cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo as well as the townships of North Dumfries, Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich. Located just one hour west of Toronto, it offers a unique blend of modern, energetic urban centres and scenic, rural landscapes and is easily accessible by road, rail and air.

Waterloo Region is rich in history and culture. Much of it comes directly from its original European settlers of Mennonite families who migrated from Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. More recently, the area's rich cultural diversity has been shaped by immigration from all parts of the world. Waterloo Region is a desirable destination for newcomers due primarily to our prosperous, diverse economic activity, the presence of highly respected learning institutions and leading edge high-tech industries.

More information can be found at: Waterloo Information where there are links to activities and a tourist information guide that you can download.

Air Travel

The major international airports for the region is Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), with Toronto City Airport (YTZ) serving North American cities. The local airport at Waterloo/Kitchener (YKF) is served by Westjet and Bearskin Airlines.

Toronto Pearson International Airport is in the northwest corner of Metropolitan Toronto, with Waterloo a 70 minute drive west.  Travellers planning to visit downtown Toronto should appreciate that the city centre is 30 minutes southeast of the airport.

Ground Transfers

Travellers routing from Pearson International Airport directly to Waterloo may refer to the following options on ground transportation provided by the airport:

Public transportation from Pearson International Airport to Wilfred Laurier University requires interjurisdictional coordination.  (GO Transit is a provincial agency).

  • The transit connection from Mississauga to Waterloo is at the Square One Bus Terminal, which is in Mississauga, a city in the Region of Peel (west of Toronto).
  • From Pearson Terminal 1 (outside, post 2908), the Mississauga Transit Bus 7 South to the Square One Bus Terminal runs daily from 5:50 a.m. to 12:26 a.m. at an exact cash fare of $3CAD.
    • Pearson Terminal 1 serves Star Alliance carriers.  Pearson Terminal 3 serves OneWorld carriers.  (Pearson Terminal 2 is being demolished, and will eventually be a wing of Terminal 1).
    • The LINK Train or transfer bus from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 should be more convenient than walking.
    • Warning:  Don't be confused.  GO bus service from Pearson Airport to Square One has been devolved to Mississauga Transit.
  • After you depart Bus 7, buy a GO Ticket for the bus to Waterloo from the agent in the Mississauga City Centre Transit Terminal.
  • Adjacent to the city terminal, across the street, is the Square One Bus Terminal.   The bus departs weekdays from 6:40 a.m. to 7:40 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 9:10 a.m. to 11:10 p.m., for $12.55CAD.
  • The GO bus will stop at Wilfred Laurier University at 75 University Avenue West.  The Bricker Residence is a short walk south across the campus.

Travellers routing from Pearson International Airport via downtown Toronto to Waterloo have additional options.

From Pearson airport to downtown Toronto the choices include:

From downtown Toronto to Waterloo:

Via Rail does not serve Waterloo, and offers only infrequent train service to its sister city of Kitchener.

Visitors should be aware that the Wilfred Laurier University campus is in downtown Waterloo, and the University of Waterloo (to the west) in a long walk away.