San Jose 2012

The 56th Annual Meeting of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences

ISSS San Jose 2012

July 15-20 2012, at San Jose State University, California

Service  Systems,  
  Natural  Systems

A retrospective of the conference is now available at the original conference pages have been retained as historical artifacts.

Join us.

2012 Call for Participation

The 56th Annual Meeting of the
International Society for the Systems Sciences

ISSS San Jose 2012

July 15-20 2012, at San Jose State University, California

Service Systems,  
  Natural Systems

A call for participation in San Jose, CA USA, July 15-20, 2012

The systems sciences provide a platform of concepts and language that enables communities of interest to transcend disciplinary boundaries towards developing new knowledge and perspectives. The ISSS 2012 theme of Service Systems, Natural Systems draws attention to complex issues in today's world, where dialogue amongst the learned may lead to better futures.
  The service systems sciences focus on the value cooperatively created and shared in human activities. Service systems support basic needs such as food and water, develop social potential through education and healthcare, and advance our societies through businesses, governments and social enterprises working in a globalized, networked world. ⇆ ⇄ The natural systems sciences focus on the sustainability and diversity of life on our planet. Social ecological systems balance competing interests of human well-being, social development and economic progress. Maintaining resilience of natural capital and resources across temporal and spatial scales challenges policies, governance and stewardship.
The sessions of ISSS 2012 will foster learning conversations. The dialectic between service scientists and natural scientists will sweep in new perspectives in dialogues beyond disciplinary boundaries.

This meeting is designed at an interactive and collegial scale of 100 to 250 thinkers with diverse backgrounds and interests in the arts and sciences of systems.

Ways to participate include:

  • Engaging with plenary speakers, discussants and groups in reflections
  • Leading conversations on research in progress and early findings
  • Presenting pre-published works for commentary and refinement
  • Sharing experiences and knowledge sketched onto posters and outlines
  • Building personal insights in diverse dialogues about systems

Featured plenary speakers:

  • Rafael Ramirez, Director, Oxford Scenarios Programme; Fellow in Strategy at the Saïd Business School and Green-Templeton College; James Martin Senior Fellow at the Oxford Martin School;
  • Jim Spohrer, Director of Global University Programs, IBM;
  • Garry Peterson, Professor in Environmental Studies, Stockholm Resilience Centre;
  • Timothy F. H. Allen, Professor Emeritus of Botany and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin Madison;
  • Stuart Umpleby, Director of the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning, George Washington University;
  • Minna Takala, Researcher and Project Manager, Business Innovation Technology Research Center, Aalto University School of Science;
  • John J. Kineman, Senior Research Scientist, Cooperative Institute for Research into Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder;
  • Discussants invited from the ISSS community
  • Cumulative synthesis by Gary S. Metcalf (President of the International Federation for Systems Research, and President of Interconnections LLC; and Pamela Buckle Henning, Associate Professor at Adelphi University

Featured "Systems Basics" session leaders:

  • "Roots of the Systems Movement", led by Debora Hammond, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University, and Past-President (2005-2006) of the ISSS;
  • "Living Systems Theory", led by James R. Simms, Chair, Special Integration Group on Living Systems Science, ISSS and author of Principles of quantitative living systems science;
  • "Ecological Resilience and Panarchy", led by Pille Bunnell, Associated Faculty, Royal Roads University, and Past President (1999-2001) of the American Society for Cybernetics;
  • "Organisational Cybernetics", led by Allenna Leonard, Past President (2009-2010) of the ISSS, and Past President (2002-2004) of the American Society for Cybernetics;
  • "Science of Generic Design", led by Jack Ring, Fellow of INCOSE (International Council on Systems Engineering), Industrial Fellow of the Stevens Institute of Technology, Co-founder of Kennen Technologies LLC;
  • "Soft Systems Methodology", led by Giles Hindle, Senior Lecturer at Hull University Business School and Associate Fellow at Warwick Business School;
  • "System Dynamics", led by Bob Cavana, Reader in Decisions Sciences at Victoria Management School, Wellington, New Zealand;
  • "Anticipatory Systems and the Modeling Relation", led by Judith Rosen, Rosen Enterprises;
  • "Language Action Perspective", led by Peter Jones, Associate Professor at OCAD University, Managing Partner at Dialogic Design International, and Managing Director at Redesign;
  • "Inquiring Systems", led by Ian Mitroff, Professor Emeritus at the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and Past President (1992-1993) of the ISSS;
  • "Idealized Design and Interactive Planning", led by John Pourdehnad, Associate Director of the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches (ACASA), and Affiliated Faculty in the Organizational Dynamics Graduate Program at the University of Pennsylvania;
  • "Socio-Technical and Socio-Ecological Systems Perspectives", led by David L. Hawk, former dean of the School of Management, New Jersey Institute of Technology

In collaboration with the Bateson Idea Group and the American Society for Cybernetics:


Conference Schedule:

  • Sunday, July 15 (6 p.m.) to Friday, July 20, 2012 (1 p.m.)
  • Pre-conference workshops on Sunday, July 15 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Post-conference workshops on Friday, July 20 (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.)

Important Dates:

  • September 15, 2011: Abstract submissions open.
  • February 15, 2012: Registration opens.
  • March 1, 2012: The deadline for panel, workshop and stream proposals.
  • May 10, 2012: The end of early, discounted registration.
  • June 15, 2012: The deadline for full papers to be included in online proceedings.
  • June 15, 2012: The deadline for abstracts and poster sessions to be streamed into the conference program.

Platinum Sponsors:

Exchange Affiliates:

Conference Host:

Papers submitted to the ISSS meeting are published in proceedings at, with the permission of author(s) under a Creative Commons license. Abstracts on discussion papers reflecting systems research in progress are welcomed.

Watch for conference updates on

For more information, contact the ISSS Office at

Printable flyer

The flyer will be updated as we can confirm more information. Please feel free to distribute this printable version to interested people. There are two versions available:

Here's a preview of the letter-size version

Incoming Presidential Address for 2012

Conference Schedule

The final conference program is available as a hardcopy book, available at the registration desk in San Jose. Preview the program book with the embedded viewer below, in a full browser viewer, or download a softcopy version (1.9 MB).

[jump to program book (in the embedded viewer)]

Major activities within the meeting week include:

  • 1. Plenary dialectics, discussant panels, breakouts, cumulative synthesis;
  • 2. Systems basics track;
  • 3. Research track;
  • 4. Workshops; and
  • 5. Student award presentations, annual general meeting

1. Plenary dialectics, discussant panels, breakouts, cumulative synthesis

The plenary sessions for ISSS 2012 are designed as knowledge-creating activities. The mornings are scheduled in the following way:

  • Plenary dialectics: Two plenary speakers each present a position. (45 minutes)
  • Discussant panel: Two discussants join the stage to have a conversation with the two plenary speakers about ways in which their ideas could be synthesized. (45 minutes)
  • Breakouts: SIG leaders coalesce groups from the audience over lunch. (2 hours). A scribe is assigned to blog the discussion. Questions to be answered include:
    • (i) What did you learn?
    • (ii) Which questions emerge?
    • (iii) Where does this contribute to, or influence, systems thinking?
  • Cumulative synthesis: The next morning, a reviewer will summarize the responses from across the breakout groups, reporting on the learning to date.

This pattern is repeated for each of four days.

After the conference, the reviewer will write up the summary for the General Systems Yearbook.

2. Systems basics track

The systems basics track for ISSS 2012 is intended to convey foundational knowledge to systems novices. These sessions should help the uninformed to learn about that which they "don't know they don't know". Systems basics sessions are led by elders in the systems community, with the encouragement to answer some basic questions:

  • 1. When did this body of knowledge originate, and from what context?
  • 2. Who have been thought leaders in this domain?
  • 3. What are the most essential ideas in this domain?
  • 4. How has this body of knowledge been applied in practice?
  • 5. Where is development of the content continuing, and which institutions are continuing to respect the legacy?

To deter information overload, session leaders are requested to present content no less than five (5) years in recency.

  • Conference attendees who have even basic familiarity with the domain content are encouraged to attend sessions in the research track instead.

The Systems Basics stream is being recorded for audio and video replays, to be released at a later date on

3. Research track

Research sessions feature reports from members of the systems community of their activities over the previous year. Abstracts are printed in the hardcopy program book distributed at the conference, with full length articles published online at

Many session are sponsored as regular meetings of Special Integration Groups, with newer topics organized with Exploratory Groups. Formats for each session can vary, from standard presentations (e.g. 15 minutes for exposition, 5 for minutes for questions) to synthesizing dialogues (e.g. attendees will have read all papers in advance, and come prepared to discuss).

4. Workshops

Workshop present an opportunity for groups to collaborate on an output, or share in joint learning. Longer sessions are possible as preconference (i.e. Sunday) activities, or in the evenings.

Shorter workshops are sometimes scheduled as parallel sessions (in the afternoons), as part of the research track.

5. Student award presentations, annual general meeting

The authors of the Sir Geoffrey Vickers' Award and Anatol Rapoport Awards for Best Student Paper are given an opportunity to outline their work to a plenary audience.

Following the bylaws of the ISSS, the week traditionally concludes with a membership meeting to ratify decisions approved by the ISSS Council.

Program Book

If the above embedded viewer is too small, try the program book in a full browser view.

The program book is downloadable as a softcopy version (1.9 MB).

2012 Workshop descriptions

Plenary dialectics

Who has registered?

Here's a list of people who have registered

The original spreadsheet is also available online, with full-sized charts showing attendees by country of origin.

There are 21 countries presented.


The largest number of attendees are from the United States, and then Canada.


Local Organizing Committee

The local organizing committee has the function to encourage grassroots participation with the ISSS by people within the immediate geographic area of the annual meeting. In 2012, that region includes the San Francisco Bay Area. Activities of the local organizing committee could include:

  • engagement of local organizations with interests complementing the theme of the conference;
  • evangelizing the system sciences to individuals predisposed to similar thinking and attitudes, who have not yet connected with this international community;
  • guiding the organizing of special sessions or workshops within the normal program of an ISSS meeting; and
  • encouraging students to contribute papers and join in learning conversations with visiting subject matter experts.

Members of the local organizing committee include:

Steven E. Wallis [coordinating chair] Director, Foundation for the Advancement of Social Theory; Adjunct Faculty, Capella University; Fellow, Institute for Social Innovation, Fielding Graduate University Petaluma
Debora Hammond ISSS Past-president (2005-2006); Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Hutchins School of Liberal Arts, Sonoma State University Rohnert Park
Alexander Lazslo ISSS President-Elect (2012-2013); President and cofounder, Syntony Quest Director of Publications and Evolutionary Learning at the Center for Advanced Study, Giordano Bruno GlobalShift University Sebastopol
Janet Singer ISSS VP of Research and Publications; Baskin School of Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz Santa Cruz

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, please contact a member of the local organizing committee for more information.  The venue for the ISSS meeting has traditionally changed almost every year, as a way of exposing a greater variety of people.  

Venue and planning aspects of the conference fall under the purview of the ISSS VP of Administration.  Program content falls under the purview of the ISSS President.


ISSS San Jose 2012 is supported by conference partners

Platinum Sponsors


Exchange Affiliates

Systems Dynamics Society American Society for Cybernetics INCOSE:
International Council on Systems Engineering

Host Organization

San Jose
State University

SIGs and Exploratory Groups -- Parallel Streams

Scholars are encouraged to contribute abstracts, working papers and posters to the ISSS annual meeting as a way of enriching their interactions with other meeting attendees. Early-stage work that provokes thinking and conversation can provide fruitful feedback to its orginator. Proceedings of the meeting are published, with the ISSS as a licensee under a Creative Commons license, so that the original author can continue to evolve his or her work for final publication in peer-reviewed publications.

Since in-depth discussions are generally better in smaller groups, much of the ISSS meeting -- typically afternoons -- are organized into parallel streams. These parallel streams may be sponsored by a Special Integration Group (SIG) that continues a pattern of meeting year after year, or an Exploratory Group that may be organized for a special session.

Upon submitting an abstract and/or paper to the ISSS, the author will be asked to self-classify the work into one of the streams. The review process, consultations with the SIG chair and scheduling conflicts may result in a paper being placed in a stream other than that originally requested. Since the spirit of the meeting is in integration rather than interest, variances such as these could be seen more as destiny or serendipity.

Authors with questions about streaming can consult either the SIG description or the SIG chair.

Special Integration Groups

Special Integration Groups represent the longest-running knowledge communities within the ISSS, with histories running over years or decades.

SIGs SIG Chair(s) Contact
Agent-based Social Simulation Shingo Takahashi
Balancing Individualism and Collectivism Janet McIntyre
Critical Systems Theory and Practice Todd Bowers
Designing Educational Systems Ockie Bosch
Evolutionary Development Alexander Laszlo & Judith Rosen
Health and Systems Thinking Thomas Wong
Hierarchy Theory Jennifer Wilby
Human Systems Inquiry Shankar Sankaran
Information Systems Design and Information Technology Bela A Banathy
Reflection Roundtable Sue Gabriele
Living Systems Science Jim Simms
Organisational Transformation and Social Change Maurice Yolles
Research Towards General Theories of Systems Vince Vesterby
Socio-Ecological Systems Vince Lopes
Spirituality and Systems Carl Swanson
SIG for Students Anne Stephens
Systemic Approaches to Conflict and Crises Dennis Finlayson and Jae Yu
Systemic Approaches to Persistent Poverty and Disadvantage Yiheyis Maru and Ockie Bosch
Systems Applications in Business and Industry Louis Klein
Systems Biology and Evolution Len Troncale
Systems and Mental Health Tamar Zohar Harel and
Pamela Buckle Henning
Systems Modeling and Simulation Janet Singer
Systems Pathology Len Troncale
Relational Science John Kineman

Exploratory Groups

Exploratory Groups are typically convened at an annual meeting. They may come together only once or twice and then disband, or they may self-organize for formal recognition as a Special Integration Group. A SIG chair has voting authority as a member of the ISSS Council, whereas Exploratory Groups are not represented in Council.

Service Systems Science Jim Kijima
Systems Engineering Janet Singer
Foundations of Information Systems

Soren Brier and Bela Banathy
Monetary Systems Debora Hammond

SIG Announcements


During our weeklong annual ISSS conference, we have been convening the ISSS RoundTable for a dozen years now. The RoundTable sessions are held for an hour every morning, Monday through Friday, right before the morning plenaries. Join us every day, or whenever you like.

Our unique format is an eye-opening new practice in democracy. We spend 5 minutes listening to short readings and the suggested topic. We then spend 55 minutes on individual reflections or learning reports, time distributed equally among all present (e.g. 27 people = about 2 minutes each). Each morning, the session is facilitated by a different volunteering facilitator selected from those in attendance.

The facilitator of the day suggests a topic of his or her choosing. In the past, our suggested topic for the first morning has been: “What situations and projects did you leave behind to come here, and what could happen here that would be valuable to you in your work and life back home?” On the second through fifth mornings, a suggested second or default topic is: “What did you experience yesterday that was interesting or important learning for you? In what way was it interesting or important?”

Folk wisdom and compelling research indicate that participants experience surprising benefits from this activity after about four sessions. Our experience with this format has resulted in the following theory: Just as we break the sound barrier when we travel faster than the speed of sound, we break the communication barrier when we hear 25 authentic viewpoints in 50 minutes.

We look forward to seeing you there!
SIG Chair: Sue Gabriele
sgabriele (at)

Travelling to San Jose, CA

San Jose, CA is served by the Mineta San José International Airport (SJC).

International travellers may prefer to fly to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and then transfer via ground transportation to San Jose.

The ISSS 2012 Access map is previewed below. If you don't see it, go to the ISSS 2012 Access map on a separate page.

View ISSS 2012 Access in a larger map with a legend

From SJC, Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport

From SJC, SJSU Solutions provides directions on the Airport Flyer and VTA Light Rail.

If you are staying in a downtown San Jose hotel (i.e. off campus), a free shuttle service from SJC may be available. Check with the hotel.

From SFO, San Francisco International Airport


From SFO, the simplest transfer to SJSU may be via the door-to-door shuttle services. With San Jose in Santa Clara County, the first passenger is on the order of $38USD, with subsequent passengers at a discount.

From SFO, SJSU Transportation Solutions provides information on a BART-Caltrain-VTA bus routing. This can be mapped as the BART train to Milbrae, the hourly Caltrain to San Jose Didiron, and then to the university by bus -- the VTA Downtown Area (DASH) Shuttle (bus 201) is free -- or taxi. This routing is on the order of $12USD.

Local public transit options (i.e. rail and bus within the city), are mapped by SJSU Transportation Solutions.

Parking at SJSU

Visitor parking is available on campus in the South Parking Garage. Rates are additive at $8 for daytime, $5 for evening, and $10 for overnight.

Accommodations in San Jose, CA

For Asilomar ASC/BIG go to ASC/BIG website, or download the housing form here.

Conference Accommodations, ISSS, San Jose

San Jose has many options for accommodation, whether you choose to stay nearby to the campus/downtown area, or by the airport perhaps. The Light Rail Transit system is an easy option for commuting to the conference from many of these areas.

Specific downtown options have been negotiated and are listed below. There is also a link to other hotels not specifically linked to ISSS2012.

San Jose State University Housing (Dorms)

From prior experience, we expect that many ISSS meeting attendees will stay in San Jose State University housing (i.e. dormitory apartments, near the southeast corner of the campus). The dormitories are a 10 minute walk to lecture halls and cafeterias or other restaurants.

Rates are as follows (and do not include any meals):

  • Double dorm room with shared bathroom facilities: $33 per night or $175 per week (7 nights)
  • Single dorm room with shared bathroom facilities: $58 per night or $325 per week (7 nights)
  • Parking is $10 per day or $21 per week.

The link for booking the San Jose Dormitories is: San Jose Dorms

San Jose Hotels Linked to the Conference

Full service hotels are in downtown San Jose west of the campus, a 5-minute taxi ride or 15 minute walk away. The hotels are also adjacent to the Light Rail System.

The St Claire, 302 S. Market Street, San Jose, 95113

The Sainte Claire is one of California’s genuine grand landmarks – a stately hotel with majestic, plush interiors situated in the heart of downtown San Jose. This landmark embraces the character of yesteryear and greets the innovators of tomorrow with luxurious modern amenities and timeless service.


Internet: Complimentary

Breakfast: Not Included

Room rates for ISSS are: (awaiting link)

Parking: Valet only, Price TBC

The Fairmont, 170 S. Market Street, San Jose, 95113

The Fairmont sits in the heart of downtown San Jose. From our front doors guests can walk to many city attractions including The San Jose Museum of Art, The Tech Museum of Innovation, The HP Pavilion, theaters, restaurants and so much more. Additionally, we are located only three miles from the San Jose International Airport. A distinctive presence in Silicon Valley, The Fairmont San Jose is a testament to extraordinary services.  Dining is exceptional at all our restaurants and lounges.  Whether it’s a poolside snack, authentic Mandarin, Cantonese and Szechwan cuisine from our Pagoda Restaurant or a thick steak grilled to perfection at The Grill On The Alley, some of the west coast’s finest cuisine is found at The Fairmont San Jose. The Fountain Restaurant is the perfect place to start your day. Open daily for breakfast and lunch this inviting restaurant offers an extensive a la carte menu selection in addition to their fabulous Sunday Brunch.  Enjoy Fairmont’s daily entertainment in the Lobby Lounge, including live music and free dance lessons!


Internet: Complimentary at Standard level if you join The President's Club (no cost).

Breakfast: Not Included

Room rates for ISSS are : $119 single/double plus tax; $144 for triple (plus tax)

Parking rates: Valet parking ONLY at $26 per day.

The Hilton San Jose, 300 Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, 95110

The Hilton San Jose hotel is located in the capital of the Silicon Valley, connected to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and only three miles from the Mineta San Jose International Airport. The Hilton San Jose, California hotel is in the heart of a bustling city flourishing with industry, culture, and beauty, rich with history and a vibrant night life. The Hilton San Jose, CA hotel is within easy walking distance of the San Jose Museum of Art, the HP Pavilion - home of the San Jose Sharks, and numerous restaurants, theatres, and shops.


Internet: Included

Breakfast: Not Included

Room rates for ISSS are : $129 single/double plus tax; $149 for triple (plus tax); $169 quad (plus tax)

Parking rates: $19 per day, self parking; Valet parking is $24 per day.

The Hyatt Place, 282 Almaden Boulevard, San Jose, 95113

Located just 4 1/2 miles from the Mineta San Jose International Airport, the Hyatt Place San Jose/Downtown is easily accessible to the San Jose McEnery Convention Center and many popular tourist destinations including, Tech Museum, San Jose Museum of Art, and Children’s Discovery Museum.  The hotel is also easily accessible to all major freeways and adjacent to light rail and train stations.


Internet: Included

Breakfast: Continental breakfast included

Room rates for ISSS are : $129 single/double plus tax; $149 for triple (plus tax); $169 quad (plus tax)

Parking rates: $19 per day, self parking only


Additional Hotels in San Jose

A listing of some of the hotel endorsed by the San Jose Convention and Visitors Bureau shows that a broad variety of choices should be available.

SJSU Campus Orientation

Program and room assignments will be determined in spring 2012. In the meantime, here's an orientation of the San Jose State University Campus.

View ISSS San Jose 2012 in a larger map with a legend

The official SJSU campus map can be found at

Restaurants and cafes near SJSU can be found with search on Yelp, a search on Urbanspoon, a search on Chowhound, or on Tripadvisor restaurants.