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The 50th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, USA, July 9th - 14th 2006

Call for Participation


Complexity, Democracy & Sustainability

The 50th Anniversary Conference of the International Society of the Systems Sciences

July 9-14, 2006

Sonoma State University - Rohnert Park, California

The 50th anniversary conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) offers a landmark opportunity to celebrate and reinvigorate a half-century of interdisciplinary collaboration and synthesis. The ISSS is unique among systems-oriented institutions in the breadth of its scope, bringing together scholars and practitioners from academic, business, government, and non-profit communities to explore what Gregory Bateson has called the “pattern that connects.”

These past fifty years have produced a tremendous richness and breadth of research into the nature of complexity, from the scientific study of complex systems to interactive approaches in management and community development. Building on this impressive heritage, the 50th annual meeting of the ISSS aims to convene leading thinkers and practitioners from across the spectrum of systems-related fields in order to nurture an ongoing synthesis of theory and practice, to cultivate a more integrated understanding of the challenges confronting humanity, and to envision possible paths toward solutions. Both the American Society for Cybernetics and the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches (ACASA) will be holding annual meetings in partnership with the Sonoma conference; and representatives from other related organizations will be participating in the program, including the System Dynamics Group, the Santa Fe Institute, the New England Complex Systems Institute, the Institute for Intercultural Studies, the General Evolution Research Group, and the Center for Organizational Dynamics (University of Pennsylvania), among others.

The theme for this anniversary conference, “Complexity, Democracy, and Sustainability,” is an attempt to capture some key dimensions in the broadly defined field of systems research. Following an opening keynote from Fritjof Capra on Sunday evening, July 9, the conference will be organized around four main plenary sessions:

  • Complex Systems and the Roots of Systems Thinking
  • Self-Organization and Living Systems
  • Ecological Systems and Sustainability
  • Social Systems Design and Practice

Confirmed speakers include Ralph Abraham, Yaneer Bar Yam, Vincent Barabba, Mary Catherine Bateson, Mike C. Jackson, Alexander & Kathia Laszlo, Ervin Laszlo, Hunter Lovins, Humberto Maturana, Richard Norgaard, Susan Oyama, George Richardson, and Geoffrey West.

ISSS conferences have a tradition of interaction and rich conversation, integrating provocative plenary discussions with breakout sessions organized around Special Integration Groups (SIGs) and other interactive formats for dialogue and synthesis. This year we plan to incorporate even more interactive dynamics into the morning plenary sessions. The formats of the afternoon breakout sessions will vary from traditional paper presentations to general discussions, as noted in the description for each session. Along with the traditional SIGs, we are organizing the following additional sessions: Economics and Complementary Currencies, Arts-Informed Inquiry, Terrorism and Peace, Climate Change, and a Bateson Forum. We also plan to create opportunities for Open Space and World Café Conversations.

We invite proposals for papers relating to the conference theme, as well as sub-themes proposed by SIG chairs. Proposals for additional forums on systems-related areas not addressed by existing SIGs and other proposed sessions will be considered. For information on submitting abstracts and proposals, see the conference web pages.

Pre and Post-Conference Workshops: We are currently planning a pre-conference workshop on Mind in Nature and a post-conference workshop on The Food System. Additional information will be available on the ISSS website.

Deadlines: The priority deadline for submission of abstracts and panel proposals is February 28, 2006. Abstracts submitted after this date and before June 1 will be considered for inclusion in the program on a space-available basis. Papers accepted for presentation will be compiled on a CDROM and distributed at the conference. The deadline for submission of full papers is April 30, 2006. For information on submission of abstracts, see

Location: The conference will be held at Sonoma State University, located in the heart of the Sonoma Valley vineyards, 50 miles north of San Francisco. There is a shuttle service from both the Oakland and San Francisco airports to the Doubletree Hotel in Rohnert Park, which is just a 5-10 minute taxi ride from the conference site.

Accommodations: Comfortable accommodations in on-campus housing are included in the Resident Registration Fees as outlined below. Fees include all meals, from Sunday evening, July 9, through Friday lunch, July 14. Rooms are all singles, each with an adjoining bathroom, arranged in four bedroom suites that include a kitchen and living room. More details on the facilities are available online.

Registration: Online registration is now available. Downloadable registration forms are also available (both in Adobe Acrobat format or in Microsoft Word format). Early registration is recommended, as space may be limited. Registration fees are described below for both resident and non-resident categories. Non-resident fees do not include parking passes (which can be purchased on-site) nor transportation to and from the conference site. There will be an additional charge of $30 for the banquet on Thursday, July 13 for both residents and non-residents.

Please choose your type of registration carefully, changes will incur additional administration charges. See the ISSS cancellation policy.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs) available through Sonoma State University; register on-site.

RESIDENT REGISTRATION FEES (includes on-site meals and housing)

Regular $825USD
Retired $725USD
Developing country $700USD
Student $675USD

NON-RESIDENT REGISTRATION FEES (includes Sunday reception and lunches)

Regular $525USD
Retired $425USD
Developing country $400USD
Student $375USD

For further information, please consult the ISSS website:

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