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ISSS 2006 Special Integration Groups

Descriptions and Calls for Papers

The 50th Conference and Annual Meeting of the ISSS promises to be a grand event. It will take place from 9-14 July 2006 at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. The theme of this year’s conference is: “Complexity, Democracy and Sustainability,” and will address such questions as:

• What can the sciences of complexity teach us about social justice and sustainability?
• What is the nature of the relationship between information and consciousness?
• How do we manage information in a way that fosters effective decision-making processes?
• How do we nurture organizational structures that serve human needs while also protecting our resources for future generations?

To address these questions, the conference will be organized around four sub-themes:

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

The conference theme, guiding questions, and sub-themes serve as platforms for consideration by the various Special Integration Groups that comprise the backbone of the ISSS.

See also Special Integration Groups, which describes the ISSS-wide purpose and organization of the SIGs.
See also Vickers Award for Best Student Paper.

This page will be updated as planning for Sonoma 2006 continues…

1 SIG 1: Systems Applications in Business and Industry

SIG Chair: David Ing

Authors are welcomed to share their papers and wisdom on Systems Applications in Business and Industry in Singerian Inquiry sessions at the 2006 ISSS meeting in Sonoma.

The SIG on SABI is one of three sessions that seem to forming as a track on business, across the afternoons of the Sonoma 2006 meeting. The other sessions, on Organizational Transformation and Social Change, and an emerging Symposium on Economics, will be scheduled (hopefully) on a non-conflicting stream.

The SABI sessions at Sonoma 2006 will follow the approach that proved successful at Cancun 2005, Asilomar 2004 and Crete 2003. The agenda not only allows each author to relate the research that he or she has recently conducted, but to also share in the development of new knowledge by drawing on the wisdom across all participants. A Singerian Inquiry, as described by C. West Churchman in The Design of Inquiring Systems, is a systemic approach that features both multiple perspectives, and the “sweeping in” of new knowledge. Authors and attendees at prior sessions have reported great satisfaction in this lightly structured, free flowing approach to conversation.

Prior to the meeting:

  • Authors may discuss their ideas about potential contributions with the SIG chair, David Ing (
  • Authors submit abstracts. Abstracts are posted on a web site for review by all. Preliminary discussions about clustering ideas into sessions are facilitated online through web forums/conferences.
  • Authors submit final papers. Papers are clustered into session of three to five papers. Preliminary discussions about ideas are facilitated online through web forums/discussions.

At the conference:

  • In each session, each author is permitted up to five minutes to present the key ideas of their papers. For the remainder of the 90-to-120 minute session (of which each speaker is the focus for about 15 minutes), an open discussion on common themes and differences between the papers gradually reveals more details about each author's thinking. Non-authors are welcomed to ask clarifying questions and contribute additional ideas, later in the session.
  • After the meeting, digests are posted on the Internet, and audio recordings may be available on CD-R. The artifacts from Crete 2003 are available at (The 2004 and 2005 artifacts are still under development).
  • Authors who require more than five minutes to present their papers should not designate their papers for the SABI stream. The chairs of the streams on Organizational Transformation and Social Change, Human Systems Inquiry and Evolutionary Development aim to work together to appropriate place papers, and work through scheduling challenges.

Attendees from the Ackoff Center for Advancement of Systems Approaches, and from the Center for Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania are especially welcomed to contribute papers to this Special Integration Group.

Presentation Format: Authors will be asked to provide very brief (i.e. five minute) summaries of their key ideas or findings. The balance of the time is devoted to discussion between authors and participants about the topics. The use of Powerpoint is extremely discouraged, and LCD projectors will not be available. A flipchart or white board may or may not be available, for those who find that diagrams accelerate audience understanding.

2 SIG 2: Hierarchy Theory

SIG Chair: Jennifer Wilby

The Hierarchy Theory SIG invites papers relating to the study of hierarchical structures and their relationships in theory and practice.

Hierarchy theory views systems as a set of ordered levels with a governing-governed relationship between the levels wherein the hierarchical levels are the sub-units of the whole system of interest. Further, the levels within the hierarchy are defined by the scale of observation chosen by the researcher (observer) and exploring this process of choice of scale is also of interest within the SIG.

Abstracts are invited from all fields of research whether natural or social systems, and research or practice. In addition, this year it would be interesting to hear from people willing to participate in discussion sessions on the principles and practice of hierarchy, and input is welcomed as to what form these sessions should take.

Presentation Format:

3 SIG 4: Systems Philosophy and Ethics

SIG Chair: Kurt Richardson

Exploring Boundaries Our understanding of the notion of ‘boundary’ is key to our understanding of a systems-based philosophy and ethics. For example, if we assume that systemic boundaries are absolute, real and easily recognizable then it is possible to develop a universal philosophy and a universal ethics that provides explicit guidance for how we can lead a ‘good’ life in all contexts. We might refer to this as Modernist Ethics with its focus on a universal set of rules and the ‘abstracting-away’ of context. If we are more inclined to assume that boundaries are merely a feature of our explanations and not an inherent characteristic of the real world, and that boundary recognition is radically context dependent, then we may be more inclined toward a relativistic philosophy in which anything goes. In such a philosophy, whether a particular action is seen as ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is completely in the eye of the beholder – context becomes so important that the ability to abstract away from the concrete and develop useful rules of thumb becomes impossible.

In (complex) systems thinking the notion of ‘boundary’ is problematized. A particular boundary is seen as a temporary and (critically) emergent pattern whose ontological status cannot be easily associated with either ‘real’ or ‘non-real’. As such it is possible to empathize both with the view that boundary recognition is strongly context dependent (therefore containing a significant subjective element), and with the view that boundaries are an intrinsic property of any system (whether absolutely real or not) and therefore allowing – to some extent – the development of quasi-objective tools for their determination. In a general sense a complex systems view of system boundaries acknowledges that they are both simultaneously ‘real’ and ‘non-real’. This may seem an odd suggestion to those who find comfort in the binary logic of Modernism, but complexity thinking provides ample evidence to suggest that such binary ‘language’ is not sufficient to understand such systems in their own terms. Although ‘dichotomization’ is essential to the process of ‘languaging’ and therefore understanding, it restricts (as much as enables) our view of such systems. A systems view of philosophy and ethics demands a more sophisticated view of language and its relationship to the ‘objects’ of our interest, than is proffered by representationalist (i.e., Modernist) views of knowledge.

(Complex) systems thinkers who are interested in this issue of how our understanding relates to a systemic universe, and how certain actions might be chosen over other choices, are encouraged to submit their ideas to this SIG by February 28th 2006. The kinds of discussions that are relevant to this special session are: • Status, limits and legitimacy of knowledge regarding complex systems • Relationship between linear and nonlinear philosophies • Systems-based ethics • Systemic limits to theories of everything • Systems and the social sciences • Systems and globalization • Systems and human subjectivity

Proposals (i.e., abstracts of no more than 500 words) will be chosen from those submitted based on their relevance to this session. Contributors of selected proposals will then be encouraged to submit full papers which will be considered for publication in the journal Emergence: Complexity and Organization.

Presentation Format: The session itself will not be run as the usual one-to-many lecturing (i.e., formal presentations will NOT be the dominant mode of interaction), but with a more interactive (dialogical) mode focusing on critical discussion of the keys themes.

4 SIG 12: Epistemology and Metamodeling

SIG Chair: John P. van Gigch

Additional Contact: Janet McIntyre-Mills

This year we will work to enlarge some of the themes that have been discussed at the ANZSYS conference that was held in Dec 2005 in New Zealand. We continued our effort to follow the West churchman's Legacy. This effort culminated in the publication of the first volume of the Kluwer/Springer Book series entitled C. West Churchman's Legacy and Related Works.

We call for papers which refer to Churchman's work to emphasize the role of inquiring systems in the search for enemies of the Systems Approach. We are particularly interested to pursue inquiries that trace the epistemology and knowledge which will enhance democracy, human relations, governance, social, cultural political, economic and environmental concerns to “ensure a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.” (From the cover of RESCUING THE ENLIGHTENEMENT FROM ITSELF: Critical and Systemic Implications for Democracy by Janet McIntyre?-Mills (Ed.), first Volume of Churchman's Book Series, Springer 2005.

Presentation Format:

5 SIG 16: Information Systems Design

SIG Chair: Béla A. Bánáthy

During the past century we have made spectacular advances in communications and computing technologies. It is clear that in this century, communications, storage, and processing capacities, as well as the human-machine interface will be developed to levels that are at present unimaginable. We have already greatly increased the surface area of human-machine contact. Perhaps more importantly, we are elevating the contact to increasingly higher levels abstraction. With many of the technical problems that constrained the information systems design efforts of the past having been solved, we can now focus more clearly on the systemic foundations of the design task. Papers addressing this general topic are invited. In addition, to lend more focus to the sessions, three themes are proposed:

  1. The conceptual foundations that inform the partitioning of tasks between human beings and machines (which, if any, tasks must remain in human hands and why?)
  2. The implications, for democratic institutions, of alternative approaches to human-machine task partitioning;
  3. Power and the internet.

Topics can be addressed at the level of an individual human being, that of a group, a community, the larger society, or combinations of these. In each case it is of particular importance for us to ask fundamental questions involving the epistemological, ontological and ethical aspects of human-machine interaction.

Presentation Format: Contributors are encouraged to provide a brief (10-15 minute) overview of the key ideas followed by a more extensive discussion. We anticipate posting of the papers on the web prior to the meeting to provide a basis for discussion.

6 SIG 17: General Theory of Systems

SIG Chair: Len Troncale

The ISSS GST-SIG embodies the original objectives of this society in their purest form, namely (1) to compare systems to discover processes that are similar (2) to enable transfer of useful fundamental knowledge between systems in order (3) to develop better theoretical models (4) for increased understanding of the unity of science.

We invite papers that identify, compare, or further develop several of the different schools of thought or general theories that are currently active or have historical significance. It is very important that the members of this society clearly distinguish between the various approaches and models that have been developed to date, who their caretakers are, and how they are being improved. We cannot help others if we do not understand ourselves. We also invite papers that conduct more detailed elucidation of any of the parts of these extant systems theories, that is, a paper can be tightly focused on one of the components of a general theory rather than on the theory as a whole. We also invite papers that compare and improve any of the tools and techniques used to study systems in general. Papers that reveal shortcomings of some extant theories or how theories that are now separate can be unified are also welcome. Any papers submitted to these sessions must exhibit the criteria of a general theory. If you do not know references that clarify these criteria, feel free to suggest such criteria. A discipline that does not have criteria that are useful in selecting among its output does not evolve and improve. This session will accept abstracts for platform presentation or for posters.

Presentation Format:

7 SIG 19: Medical and Health Systems

SIG Chair: Debora Hammond

The Medical and Health Systems SIG invites papers that address integrated approaches to health care and the current health care crisis, as well as connections between personal, social, and environmental dimensions of health. Of particular interest are papers documenting applied and community-based research and papers demonstrating a systemic approach to critical crises in health care.

Health and disease have implications in all layers of the living universe, from the sub-molecular level, through cellular, organismic, family, organizational and societal levels to the international level. We welcome papers that illustrate such a multilevel integration.

Medicine is an inherently systemic field that requires the integration of theory and empirical data from a variety of disciplines for its success. Perhaps one of the greatest needs confronting humanity is a more trans-disciplinary approach in dealing with the challenges of health promotion, and disease prevention and management.

Presentation Format: Authors will be asked to provide a brief (10 minute) overview of key ideas or findings from their research, leaving the remaining time for more interactive discussion among participants. PowerPoint or other media may be used to highlight important points, if desired, although more informal presentation styles are welcome and encouraged. The primary goal of this session is to facilitate dialogue and collaborative learning. We anticipate posting papers on the web prior to the meeting to provide a basis for discussion.

8 SIG 20: Living Systems Analysis

SIG Chair: James Simms

The missions of the Living Systems Analysis (LSA) Special Integration Group (SIG) are the development and application of living systems theory and science. LSA is one of the oldest and continuously operating SIGs in the society. Much has been accomplished in the development and application of living systems theory and science. Miller's living systems theory provides the basis for much of the living systems analysis associated with the SIG. Also, the fundamental principles of a living systems science, equivalent to those of the other natural sciences, have been developed.

You are invited to submit papers that deal with the conference theme (Complexity, Democracy, and Sustainability) from a living systems perspective. Also, papers linking living systems theory and science to other science and bodies of theory (e.g. biology, physics, chemistry, hierarchy theory, duality theory, accounting theory, economics, behavioral theories) are encouraged. We are especially interested in papers that extend living systems science and that apply the science.

Presentation Format:

9 SIG 21: Designing Educational Systems

SIG Chair: Patrick Jenlink

Call for papers for the 2006 meeting - Sonoma

You are invited to submit papers that respond generally to the overall theme of “Designing Educational Systems for Complexity, Democracy and Sustainability” and specifically to ideas expressed in one of the questions that align with the 50th Conference and Annual Meeting of ISSS:

  • What can the sciences of complexity teach us about educational systems design that is concerned with democratic practice, social justice and sustainability?
  • What is the nature of the relationship between education, educational systems, and democratic consciousness?
  • How do we educate future generations of citizens (local, national and global citizens) to manage information and make socially responsible decisions?
  • How do we create and nurture educational systems that serve human needs while also protecting our resources (intellectual, aesthetic, moral, cultural and natural resources) for future generations?

The theme for the Designing Educational Systems SIG is focused on creating the human condition through designing educational systems that serve humanity and foster democratic civil society. Papers are solicited that fit within the following ideas:

  1. Educational Systems Design as Social Discourse and Social Action – Designing educational systems that address issues of social justice, equity, and caring in the context of growing diversity and globalization of society. Specifically, types/examples of social discourse, including dialogue, ethical, and design, and how these types of discourse are used in the creation and sustainment of educational systems that contribute to democratization levels of society.
  2. Educational Systems Design in the Service of Sustainability – Examining how systems and educational scholars and practitioners–scholarly practitioners–can serve on the behalf of “sustainability” by seeking to create new relationships within and across boundaries of existing social systems, and/or addresses the potential of diversity and complexity in the solving of human problems. Research papers, philosophical position papers, and theoretical papers that reflect considerations for Education in the Service of sustainability particularly as related to educational systems design and creating alternative future possibilities.
  3. Designing Democratic Educational Systems through Design – Seeking models, exemplars, and idealized designs of educational systems that are “public spheres”, premised on dialogue and democracy, with the purpose of reconnecting individual citizens and creating an authentically engaged public who embraces the responsibility for the education of future generations.
  4. The Complexity of Educating Society, Locally and Globally toward Democracy and Sustainability, through Educational Systems – Understanding the complexity of educational systems and role educational systems play in democracy and sustainability of national and global society. Research papers, philosophical position papers, and theoretical papers that reflect considerations for the systemic relationship of all social systems, particularly as related to educational systems design focused on ensuring sustainability of intellectual, aesthetic, moral, cultural and natural resources.
  5. Integrating Educational Systems through Design – Investigating models, studies, and position papers that focus on how educational systems (i.e., public education and higher education, systems education and K-12 education, parochial education and public education, etc.) have been integrated through systems design and how these integrated systems have incorporated complexity and democracy to addressed social issues and cultural problems in ways that hold promise and potential for serving humanity’s needs.
  6. Open Theme – General papers on designing educational systems and related systems design efforts concerned with education that do not fit one of the other themes, but which addresses the larger theme of the ISSS 2006 Conference, Complexity, Democracy and Sustainability.

An opening general session for the SIG will be scheduled to present the week's program. The sessions will be organized so as to maximize interaction among presenters and participants. Each presenter is asked to include with their abstracts a set of 3-5 “trigger” questions selected to promote/provoke a conversation about the presenter's issue or premise. Presenters are asked not to read their papers, but rather present their work in a conversational style that invites participation from the audience in attendance.

Presentation Format: Presenters should bring 20 copies of their papers, along with triggering questions that may be used to guide conversations. These will be made available to interested participants.

10 SIG 24: Human Systems Inquiry

SIG Chair: Arne Collen

Human Systems Inquiry (HSI) Special Integration Group (SIG) has a central emphasis on those Systems Sciences directly concerned with human beings. We invite you to contribute a paper relevant to the conference theme that also pertains to human systems inquiry. Any paper making this connection will be considered. The purpose of the HSI SIG is to provide an arena for ISSS members to present, exchange information, learn, and discuss: 1) ideas and viewpoints concerning issues in systems methods and methodologies relevant to human beings and the human condition; 2) applications of systemic ideas to systems practice in human contexts; 3) innovations in systems methodology; and 4) systemic case studies conducted in, with, or by human activity systems. Any one or more of these purposes may be related to the conference theme. For consideration, submit your abstract of 300 words maximum that includes at least one sentence relating the paper directly to the conference theme, and at least one sentence that connects your paper to any one or more of the four SIG focus areas stated above.

Presentation Format:

11 SIG 26: Critical Systems

SIG Chair: Jennifer Wilby

The special integration group in Critical Systems invites contributions for participation in its paper sessions at the 2006 annual meeting of the ISSS. This is a multidisciplinary and challenging area that represents an alternative to understanding current human, social, and political issues, from a mainly managerial perspective. Its scope goes beyond the boundaries of traditional management sciences. On the one hand, it involves a reflection on issues emerging from current systems thinking and practice from contemporary philosophy (e.g., post-structuralism, critical theory, postmodernism), and other social disciplines. On the other, it also includes research that although systemic in orientation is mainly grounded in those disciplines. Our aim is to take advantage of the multidisciplinary background and theoretical approaches of the participants, to generate a meaningful dialogue to inspire future research.

As a Critical Systems group we expect to be creative and innovative. Therefore, although the submission of a formal abstract and paper is expected, we would like to organise the sessions in accordance to the participants’ needs and expectations. Please let us know of any suggestions about the topics, discussions or any other proposals as soon as possible.

For more information please contact Jennifer Wilby, at University of Hull Business School, The University of Hull, Kingston-upon-Hull, HU6? 7RX, United Kingdom.

12 SIG 29: Evolutionary Development

SIG Chairs: Alexander & Kathia Laszlo

We cordially invite you to join us at the 50th annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). Specifically, we hope you will consider contributing a paper and/or poster for presentation in the Evolutionary Development SIG (Special Integration Group) that it is our pleasure to co-chair. This will be the eighth year of productive meetings as an intact line of inquiry, the first four under the name of the Evolutionary Learning Community SIG, and the last three as the ED SIG. We will continue to focus our efforts on issues of timely relevance to which ELCs may best be dedicated.

Taken together (i.e., systemically), the conference theme, related guiding questions, and relevant sub-themes provide an exciting platform to catalyze the collective explorations of the ED SIG.

Inquiry in the area of Evolutionary Development involves revision of development notions and strategies, from a systemic and evolutionary perspective, in order to integrate the often isolated areas of human, economic, social, and sustainable development. Doing more with less, promoting living simply and meaningfully, and creating a sustainable economy where present and future human needs can be met without compromising the natural environment are some of the concrete objectives of Evolutionary Development. Evolutionary Learning Communities, as learning environments where people can learn together about the interconnected nature of our world, the ecological impact of our individual and collective choices, and the joy of finding a meaningful way to contribute to the emergence of sustainable and evolutionary futures, are the social units where Evolutionary Development can be set in motion for the ongoing self-organization of human societies in syntony with the planetary life support systems upon which they depend.

We invite both theoretical analyses relating to the principles and constructs of Evolutionary Development as well as presentation of explorations and practical applications that foster Evolutionary Development. This SIG welcomes treatment of themes that include, but are not limited to, consideration of the following topic areas:

- Human, social, and natural capital
- Self-directed sustainable development
- Community empowerment and participatory/anticipatory democracy
- Socio-ecological competence and the evolution of consciousness
- Design of ELCs as evolutionary guidance systems
- Evolutionary Systems Design as praxis
- Syntony as an organizing force in societal evolution

The ED SIG will be run as follows: During the conference itself, no formal paper presentations will be made, even though acceptance of both abstracts and full papers and/or posters is required. In order to be congruent with the general theme of the conference and the specific focus of our inquiry, our sessions will be conducted as learning conversations. Participants will engage first in a generative conversation in which they will have the opportunity to share the core ideas of their work with each other. After the group has attained a basic collective cognitive map of the research and constructs represented in the room, we will to move into a strategic conversation to identify areas of synergy. Once common themes and directions have been identified, we will move into an evolutionary conversation to create new knowledge and insights, and propose further collaborations.

By way of background information in preparation for this event, we urge you to visit the historical webpages of the ELC SIG. Since the ED SIG is a descendent of the previous ELC SIG, the statements of goals, purpose, and history, as well as of topics, format, and focus all bear directly on the spirit of engagement in which the ED SIG will meet in Sonoma. The URL to visit is as follows:

Of course, if there is anything we can help clarify for you with respect to the above, please do get in touch with us.

For further information, please contact:
Alexander & Kathia Laszlo
- Co-Chairs, ISSS ED SIG
U.S.A.: 810-A Quarry Road - The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129
Mexico: Cardenal 1310, San Andres - El Barrial, Santiago NL 67300
Tel/Fax: ++415/346.1547 (USA) Tel/Fax: ++81/ (Mex)
eMail: || web:

“For more information on the SIG”, see SIG on Evolutionary Development

13 SIG 33: What is Life/Living?

SIG Chair: John Kineman

Since 1999 the WILL SIG has explored many aspects of the question “What is Life” from intrinsic and extrinsic perspectives. In keeping with the theme of the 50th Annual Meeting, the WILL SIG invites papers regarding the relationship between complexity, ecosystems, and sustainability.

We would especially like to explore the question “what is an ecosystem?” in the context of defining life. What distinguishes an ecosystem from an organism? From a physical system? Related questions are:

  1. What is meant by sustainability? How is it defined?
  2. Are ecosystems “alive” or do they just contain life?
  3. What is the best way to comprehend the living aspect of ecosystems?
  4. Are ecosystems complex? If so, how?

Within this theme there are many more related questions. A boad focus will be applied in selecting papers, however they should be aimed at elucidating the internal nature of life (prefeably ecosystems).

14 SIG 34: Women and Children

SIG Chair: Anne Nelson

Papers are invited that identify themes and research interests which account for the perspectives, interests and needs of children and women in social systems.

More than half of the world's population is women. Children are the future. Both groups are affected by different systems constructs, with formal and informal needs to have representation in the community or social system in which they live. Papers that apply systems thinking and understanding to family systems, community systems, and other social systems as related to the development of service systems are always welcome. A special invitation is extended to those who would like to present papers on the sub themes of integration and continuity as they apply to women and children in community systems. Papers are invited from anyone who is interested in developing scholarship focusing on this area of study.

The focus of this conference is Complexity, Democracy, and Sustainability. Within these parameters papers are invited that expand the body of knowledge that pertains to the subject of Women and Children in Community Systems. ISSS administration has suggested the following questions as examples of questions that might begin the research into this subject.

What can the sciences of complexity teach us about social justice and sustainability? What is the nature of the relationship between information and consciousness? How do we manage information in a way that fosters effective decision-making processes? How do we nurture organizational structures that serve human needs while also protecting our resources for future generations?

The process of food production is a critical element of a healthy community system. A special post conference workshop is being offered titled, “Food Connections: Applying a Systems Approach to Develop Healthy Pathways from Seed to Table and Beyond”.

We encourage papers that develop an understanding of the role of Women and Children in relationship to the production of food.

For further information, please contact: Anne Nelson Chair, Women and Children in Community Systems at:

Presentation Format:

15 SIG 35: Systems-Specific Technology

SIG Chair: Vadim I. Kvitash

The great scientific and practical potentials of General Systems Theory as well as Systems Sciences have not yet been fully realized. We are still mostly ruminating about the initial concepts of von Bertalanffy and have not yet progressed to the level of an exact and complete scientific theory with its own language, ontology, epistemology, methodologies, tools and technologies.

The purpose of the Systems-Specific Technology SIG is to be instrumental in the development and in the implementation of systems-specific technologies/tools sufficiently effective for scientific and pragmatic application in various domains and across the boundaries of different sciences. These technologies/tools are expected to push the limits of human perception, cognition, communication, and will transform today?s Systems Sciences to the level of the Exact Systems Science.

ISSS members are invited to contribute to the Systems-Specific Technology Session(s) to explore the following:

  1. Defining Systems-Specific Technologies/Tools
  2. Network Structures of Systems-Specific Relational Languages
  3. Concepts and Methodologies for Developing, Constructing, Testing and Validation of different types of Systems-Specific Technologies/Tools
  4. Systems-Specific Technologies/Tools: Established and Under Development

16 SIG 36: Organizational Transformation and Social Change

SIG Chair: Maurice Yolles

One interest of this SIG is seeing organisations as social communities, thereby allowing for a convergence between management systems/cybernetic theory and sociology. Another concerns the change imperative for autonomous organisations in a complex world (more on this can be found at the Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change ). Abstracts are therefore invited from all fields of organisational or social systems research and/or practice.

The format for submissions should be as a normal academic paper. The content may be a balance between theory and practice or a theoretical paper. A paper directly totally towards practice may be better directed towards the SIG on Systems Applications in Business and Industry (SABI). In any case the two SIGs work closely together. If requested, papers published in these SIGs will also be considered for the Journal of Organisational Transformation and Social Change.

Presentation Format: This SIG follows a more conventional presentation format (as compared to that of the SABI group), with each author sequentially alloted 15 to 20 minutes for presentation.

17 Systems Science Basis for Systems Pathology and Systems Biology

SIG Chair: Len Troncale

The new field of Systems Biology uses the vast amounts of reductionist data emerging from comparative panomics to study biological entities as systems (using knowledge of the parts to put Humpty Dumpty back together again). While systems biologists are using recent advances in network theory in their work, and at their conferences, they know little about systems science in general. For example, they are describing a new phenomenon they call “degeneration” but it is actually the same thing as “equifinality” that was described by Bertalanffy in the fifties. Nobel laureate Edelmann in a recent plenary1 remarked that “reductionism is not enough” for the study of these new ideas and a physiology review2 recently criticized current research as “naïve reductionism.”

The development of Systems Biology presents us with major opportunities for capturing funding and proving the worth of systems science by providing knowledge to the natural sciences. Funding levels of $34M to $100M are dedicated to establishing new Centers and Institutes for Systems Biology at major universities such as Harvard, Caltech, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and the Claremont Colleges. There are already several different Systems Biology international conference series. But to capitalize on these opportunities, systems science must prove that it can provide “value added” insights and practical techniques to the natural sciences. We need exemplars of problems in systems biology that could be solved by application of knowledge gained from systems science and systems pathology.

The purposes of this third annual meeting of the Systems Pathology SIG are to invite (1) papers that summarize ideas, tools, or techniques of systems science that could inform systems biology, (2) papers that relate systems pathology to systems biology, (3) papers that show how advances in systems biology can contribute to systems science, and (4) papers that further develop systems pathology as a new discipline that could contribute to both systems science and systems biology. It should be noted that any advances in systems science of utility to systems biology/systems pathology would also be of utility to the systems neurosciences and earth systems science. This session will accept abstracts for platform presentation or for posters.

Presentation Format:

18 SIG for Students

SIG Chair: Nicholas Magliocca

Students from approximately high school to post-doctoral age are cordially invited to join the second annual meeting of the Student SIG. This will take place at the 50th annual meeting in July 2006 of the International Society for the System Sciences (ISSS) held at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California, USA. We hope that you will consider contributing a paper and/or poster for presentation in our group discussions. However, simply participating in the group’s generative and creative dialogue is also appreciated and welcomed. The goals of the Student SIG include: to foster interest and excitement for the systems sciences among younger generations; share and articulate ideas from many different disciplines; and to synthesis a collected “youth” view of the Society’s past, present, and future.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Complexity, Democracy, and Sustainability” in an attempt to create connections of philosophy and practice across many varied fields. We will explore what fifty years of system science can teach us about the commonalities and patterns of complex problem-solving and the growing importance of sustainable solutions. As students, this year’s theme will enable us to connect with members of our own generation so that we may discuss these complex issues within a systems framework.

It is my privilege to chair the second meeting of the Student SIG in an effort to meanifully connect younger generations in the exploration of the systems science approach. What makes this SIG unique, is the oppotunity to integrate many varied disciplines and backrounds into a student presence within the ISSS. Distinguished members of the society will also be invited to come speak to our SIG to futher present their ideas. It is essential that youth participation be established in order to introduce youth to the workings of the ISSS, to create a contributing student membership, and to perpetuate the work of the ISSS in the future.

The meetings of the Student SIG will be conducted in much the same manner as the Evolutionary Development SIG, chaired by Alexander and Kathia Laszlo. There will be no formal presentations of papers/posters, but rather a brief period for the day’s presenters to familiarize the group with their work. Triggering questions will be created beforehand in order to give the disscussion a focus. After allowing for a brief question period, we will proceed to a strategically guided discussion. An evolutionary dialogue will take place in which new insights may be constructed and further collaborations made possible.

The best preparations for these meetings will be to read the papers scheduled for presentation, take part in outside conversations during the various workshops and plenaries, and come with enthusiam for a new youth collaboration!

Presentation Format: Brief presentaitons by authors, followed by strategically guided discussion

19 Exploratory Groups and Forums

The following are not officially designated Special Integration Groups by the ISSS, but may host papers or provide presentations or discussion around topics of interest to members.

19.1 Systems Approaches in Arts-Informed Inquiry

SIG Chairs: Lezlie Kinyon & Bela A. Banathy
Arts-informed inquiry is interdisciplinary and integrative. It incorporates the questions of validity, legitimacy, and significance of traditional approaches as well as the questions of meaning and function that an artist asks in approaching work. As Max van Manen (1990) suggested, a researcher must, at times, discover or invent a methodological approach sufficient to the subject under research in order to create an energetic response. Coupled with a systems approach, arts-informed inquiry has the potential to create a rich corollary to the Aristotelian episteme in science research. Arts-informed inquiry allows researchers to tackle elusive subjects such as the search for wisdom or our roles as thinking and aware beings within nature's complex web. It allows for the disciplined process of inquiry to be foremost in subjects of a personal nature such as gender identity or dreams and consciousness. The group will explore, through traditional academic papers and the approaches found in the arts, two parallel and equal “tracks” of inquiry: art-as-inquiry and arts-informed inquiry that utilizes the tools of the arts in science research.

Abstracts will be necessary for each type of presentation, just as for papers for the conference. Presentations may take many forms, from musical composition, performance work, visual art, and story-making, to academic papers of the more traditional variety. The chairs encourage an integrated approach involving both. All papers and performances must adhere to the spirit of inquiry in the systems sciences.

For 2006, this group will meet in the Conference Gallery and an announcement will follow from the planning committee regarding showing your work.

For further information and published references please contact Bela A. Banathy, Ph.D. and Lezlie Kinyon, Ph.D.

19.2 General Evolution Research Group

This Forum features papers and discussion by members of The General Evolution Research Group (GERG), but is not limited to members. It centers on the theme, suggested by Ervin Laszlo, of a “decision window” within which fundamental changes must be made if global economic/social/ecological crises are to be averted and crisis-oriented trends turned around. This topic is loosely tied to Laszlo’s forthcoming book from Hampton Roads, THE CHAOS POINT: The World at the Crossroads (or Seven Years to Avoid Global Collapse and Promote Worldwide Renewal). We request a web forum prior to the Sonoma meeting on which to post papers and conduct discussions in preparation for the actual gathering.

19.3 Gregory Bateson Forum

This Forum encourages a celebration and discussion of Gregory Bateson’s work and legacy broadly focused around the four central conference themes: (1) Complex Systems and the Roots of Systems Thinking; (2) Self-Organization and Living Systems; (3) Ecological Systems and Sustainability; and (4) Social Systems Design and Practice.
Visit the web forum, which will be used prior to the Sonoma meeting to post papers and conduct discussions in preparation for the gathering.

19.4 Economic Systems for a Service Economy

A service-based economy functions according to system principles that are different from those of an industrial economy based on manufacturing and trade. This does not mean that the market system principles of the industrial economy are obsolete. It does mean that additional system principles must be incorporated to accommodate the economics of service relationships. Fortunately, information management technology makes is cost effective to account for these additional levels of complexity.

These additional complexities include the fact that in many economic arenas human relationships must be accounted for as income and/or assets, not as costs. This has been recognized to some extend in the concept of “human capital,” although there is no consensus about the appropriate methodology for measuring it. It is also to be found in areas such as education, social services, health care, and entertainment and the arts. In all of these areas, Edgar Cahn's concept of “co-production” is relevant: Value is created for the party traditionally defined as the producer as well as for the consumer. Also, in all of these areas markets alone cannot guarantee an adequate supply. That is because they participate in the economics of “the commons” where collective purchasing decisions are necessary. This necessarily introduces an explicitly political element into the economic process.

Topics will include:

  • The structure of service economies
  • Valuing human resources and relationships as assets and/or income (vs. costs)
  • Complementary currencies and valuation systems
  • Intentional economics
  • Economics of the commons
  • Triple bottom line accounting for individuals, firms, organizations, and communities

Presentation Format: To express an interest in participating in a panel that will introduce this topic at the symposium, please submit a one-page position statement that articulates what you consider to be the right questions to be asking about this subject, at this time. The organizers will create a summary of this input to be included in the proceedings. This is not meant to discourage full-length papers on this subject for possible separate inclusion in the proceedings.

Papers and Links: Position papers and relevant links can be found here:

For information or to submit position papers, please contact:

19.5 Aging Systems: An Integrated Study of Humans, Organizations (Corporations) and the Universe

Chair: Daniel Hershey

The aging process is, of course, a universal phenomenon. And for living systems (humans), the end result is death, the universal attractor. For so-called inanimate systems such as corporations, they need not die, but many do. And what of the universe, perhaps our largest and most important system? Aging theories abound, from wear and tear, free radical, autoimmune, finite potential, to those driven by thermodynamics, incorporating the ideas of Ilya Prigogine and Claude Shannon.

Abstracts are invited, for work dealing with “lifespan and factors affecting it”, “must we grow old”, and “entropy, infinity, and death”- for humans, or corporations, or the universe.

Presentation Format: Presentations at the meeting will be twenty minutes each, with 10 minutes for discussion with the audience (for a total of 30 minutes for each presenter). After this, an open forum will take place, with presenters and the audience freely interacting.

For more information, please contact Professor Daniel Hershey by e-mail, at the University of Cincinnati, USA. Or go to his web site to see his work involving aging systems (

19.6 Systems Education Paper Session

Chair: Len Troncale

In the seventies and eighties there were a dozen or more departments, centers, and institutes that offered degrees in systems science or general systems studies at various levels. The ISSS sponsored compendia that listed and compared these programs for the use of students who wanted to study and earn degrees in such programs. Over the last decade, some of these programs were terminated so these compendia are now outdated. Because of the renewed interest in studying systems and systems applications, it may be timely to once again organize sessions with the purpose of presenting and comparing the offerings of systems education programs that remain in existence or are just forming. Since such information is of growing importance to the field of systems science and to the pipeline of specialists preparing for careers in systems science, perhaps the formation of a SIG on Systems Education Programs is now needed and would be of great interest and utility to our members and SIGs? such as the Student SIG.

It is important to distinguish the objectives of this proposed SIG from the active, existing SIG on Designing Educational Systems. The latter has a distinguished and productive history of using systems tools and ideas to organize better conventional public and private educational programs on all subjects at all levels. While their guidelines should also be used to deliver systems science education, this SIG would focus on those programs that prepare systems scientists for a career in systems science per se, not on better design of educational systems in general. For the purpose of this session we will define systems science education in the broadest possible terms, from the natural sciences, to engineering, to systems simulation and modeling, to complex systems, to systems applications domains.

We invite papers that (1) present details on a single systems science education program, (2) compare the details of different systems science education programs, (3) provide a history of the fate of past systems science education programs as lessons for the future, (4) propose foundation of new systems science education programs, (5) report on recent changes or improvements of systems education programs, (6) better define the components required for a curriculum in systems science, or (7) review lists, collections, or workbooks of the past and present on systems education programs. This session will accept abstracts for platform presentation or for posters.

19.7 Session on Global Agoras

Chair: Ken Bausch

People interested in community (agora) building are invited to a session on this topic featuring short presentations and serious dialogue.

We will discuss how we might create communities of dialogue and action that communicate and bolster each other. Talks are welcome on real or intended projects, methodology, and opportunities. Comments are welcome from everyone.

If you want to present in this session, please submit a description of your topic as an abstract through the regular conference process. (No final paper will be required.)

If you are interested in a Spanish-speaking session on agora-building, please contact Ken Bausch directly at the address listed.

Presentation Format: Ten minutes is the maximum length of your presentation. Expect 15 minutes of Q & A and dialogue.

19.8 Scholarly Session on Terror, Torture, Secrecy, Propaganda, Democracy, and Peace Development

Chair: Carl Slawski

This session will have a special preference for papers oriented to fundable research hypotheses and possible proposals to agencies of international scope, including analyses of the sources of human rights abuse implicit in the standard operating procedures of multi-national corporations, perhaps in comparison with the motives of insurgents to kill innocent, noncombatant persons.

Presentation Format: For the benefit of the audience in this scholarly session, full papers or charts may be distributed at the start, and should be summarized orally within ten minutes each, followed immediately by up to ten minutes of discussion on the paper just given, or on discussion questions prepared by the author, and at the end by a general discussion that attempts to relate all papers in the session to larger issues, preferably oriented toward positive solutions or future, possibly fundable empirical or philosophical, i.e., general systemic research. Preparation of easily movable graphic display sheets or posters as reference outlines for possible later discussion are encouraged.

To avoid possible problems with reading e-mail attachments or insertions, after the abstract is accepted through normal channels, a duplicate hard copy of the abstract and full paper may be sent along with a copy on floppy disk (preferably in WORD format) by regular air mail postal service to 555 South Ventu Park Rd., Newbury Park, CA 91320, USA.

19.9 Integrative Study Session on Terror, Torture, Secrecy and Peace

Facilitator: Carl Slawski

This part is an invitation to the session rather than a Call for Papers, per se.

Subtopics: Shame (unacknowledged), Envy, Corporate (and Government) Greed, Prejudice, Terror Motives, Torture, Secrecy, Propaganda, Democracy, and Peace Development.

Presentation Format: The guidelines, with procedures developed by Joe Engelberg (1994, The Nature of Integrative Study, Stillwater, OK, New Forums Press) require leaving all footnotes and academic baggage at the door, speaking briefly and without interruption, one person at a time, only in a collegial manner, from the heart and from personal life experience. The approach needs no advance preparation. The subtopics (listed above) will be broken into “framework statements,” such as maxims or proverbs, selected in advance by the facilitator, will be distributed by the facilitator or session guide at the beginning of the discussion session, but not before. The purpose overall of such sessions is to mine the collective wisdom of participants without the interruptions, complication, or confusion introduced by the verbosity of many typical academic or scholarly presentations.

19.10 Foundation of Information Science

Søren Brier:
Béla A. Bánáthy:
Jed Jones:

The Foundation of Information Science (FIS) Research Group invites papers in the broad sense of the topic. Additionally, building upon the work of the past few years, we encourage consideration of the possibilities and limitations in the informational approach to communication, mind, nature and evolution. The FIS work should be of value to everyone who has an interest in what it means to found our worldview and epistemology on a theory of information being equal in importance to the theories of energy, matter, space and time. Does the informational approach help us to better formulate theories of emergent evolution, cognition, consciousness and communication? Are the systems and cybernetically based informational theories, such as Bateson's for instance, sufficient to make theories of intentionality, signification and meaning in cognition and communication of signs and language? Or, is it necessary to integrate phenomenological, hermeneutical and semiotic theories to get to that Transdisciplinary theory of “Mind and Nature” at which Bateson was aiming? Can the dynamical patterns of nature, as viewed through a process dynamic perspective, be seen as linguistic dynamics? Is information theory deep enough to describe language? Are theories of information compatible at all with autopoiesis and second order cybernetics?

Presentation Format: Contributors are encouraged to provide a brief (10-15 minute) overview of the key ideas followed by a more extensive discussion. We anticipate posting of the papers on the web prior to the meeting to provide a basis for discussion.

19.11 Agent-Based Social Systems Science

Chair: Kyoichi (Jim) Kijima

This session aims at tackling economic, organizational, and social problems in terms of collective decision making by a large collection of autonomous and heterogeneous agents. It covers broader spectrum of system sciences, including social systems theory, sociology, business administration, management information science, organization science, computational mathematical organization theory, economics, evolutionary economics, international political science, jurisprudence, policy science, and socio-information studies.

19.12 Poster Presentations Concerning "The role of systems theory in global climate change."

Contact: Debora Hammond

The format for this session is that each presenter will bring a poster describing in chart or other graphic form the essence of his/her contribution to the general topic of how systems theory(ies) can or do inform an issue in the area of global climate change. Each person bringing a poster will have five minutes to articulate to the rest of the group the main points on the poster. After the presentations have been made, the attendees will have time to look at and discuss each other’s posters.

Eight to ten posters will be selected for presentation. The following list is suggestive of the types of topics that could be included in this session:

  • The role/effect of positive and/or negative feedback loops
  • The influence of GCC on social, economic and/or political systems
  • The impact of uncertainties in data, modeling, etc. on systemic predictions
  • The effectiveness of proposed mitigations
  • Ecological changes as proof or consequences of GCC
  • The construction and validation of GCC models
  • Linear vs. abrupt models of GCC
  • Identifying the relative influence of forcing mechanisms

19.13 A Daily Reflective Roundtable for All ISSS 2006 Participants

Session Chair: Susan Farr Gabriele

Everyone is invited to our sixth annual morning Roundtable to take place in Sonoma, California. It will be an hour daily, from 7:30 to 8:30 am, July 10-July 15, Room (To Be Announced). Join us every day, or whenever you like!

Our Roundtable purposes are to open a space for daily reflection on our ideals, that is, what we want to learn and create; to increase time for each of us to talk from our hearts and minds about what we are thinking, experiencing, and learning now; and to be listened to by the others in the group, enjoying and learning with each other in a new way. To make our purposes and format transparent, we will have the Roundtable guidelines on each chair for easy referral.

Our format is: We spend 5 minutes listening to short readings: e.g., the Roundtable guidelines; 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). Our suggested topic for the first morning might be: “What situations and projects did you leave behind to come here, and what could happen here that would be valuable to you, here, or in your work or life back home?” Each day, a different topic will be suggested by a different volunteering facilitator of the day.

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 can break the communication barrier when we hear 25 authentic viewpoints in 50 minutes.

The systems rationale for our format is the following. Bureaucratic models assume all parts of a social system are designable. Laissez-faire models assume no parts are designable. Boulding organizes the systems of the world from simple to complex for a “systems” model of a social system. He clarifies that certain parts of a social system (frameworks, clockworks, thermostat-like systems) are designable to externally-prescribed criteria. Other parts, human, (open, blueprint, image-aware, symbol-processing) are not designable. They act according to internally-prescribed criteria–self-determined needs, perceptions, choices–of increasing variability. Therefore, the Roundtable scripts and timing are tightly designed to leave maximum time for variable individual comments.

20 Preconference Workshops - Sunday, July 9

20.1 Workshop: Sign and Space

Presenter: Louis H. Kauffman, UIC
Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
This workshop will present cybernetics from the viewpoint of Laws of Form, eigenform and self-reference. We will begin with an open discussion of the notion of discrimination (make a distinction!) and the spatial formalism that relates these conceptions to logic, self-reference, circularity and cybernetics. Space and language, structure and its encoding are the Janus-faces of a larger whole. We shall continue the discussion to include aspects of the topology of self-reference, novelty and creativity, quantum non-locality and linguistic non-locality (in the Flagg resolution of logical paradox).

20.2 Workshop: Comprehensive Introduction to the Practice of Systems Science

Presenter:Len Troncale and IAS Students
Time: 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
You are going to the 50th Anniversary meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS). So what is “systems science?” How is it practiced? This three-hour, pre-conference workshop will consist of presentation, discussion and analysis of detailed listings of the following aspects of systems science to serve as perhaps the most wide-ranging overview of the incipient field to-date. We will cover as many as time permits. We will encourage group participation in adding to the listings as we progress through them. (1) Survey of the main domains of systems science. (2) Survey of tenets and assumptions of systems science. (3) Observations on terminology in systems science. (4) Classifications of the “systems” knowledge base. (5) Criteria for general theories of systems. (6) Source fields and disciplines. (7) Candidate general theories of systems or schools of thought. (8) One hundred isomorphies (systems processes or mechanisms). (9) Hundreds of Linkage Propositions describing mutual influences of systems processes. (10) Survey of, and antidotes for key obstacles inhibiting progress on general theories. (11) Key systems-related journals and periodicals. (12) Key systems bibliographies. (13) Survey of key websites and Internet sites. (14) Systems education programs. (15) Key systems-based centers and institutes. (16) Survey of systems-focused investigators & research workers. (17) Systems-based conferences. (18) Systems-based professional societies. (19) Employment opportunities for systems scientists. (20) Survey of systems-sensitive funding agencies and opportunities. (21) Survey of systems-based or systems-related methodologies; case studies of past funding. (22) Survey of systems-based tools and technologies. (23) Classifications of the “systems” applications base; problems that need systems science. (24) Case studies of applications and exemplars in the physical sciences. (25) Case studies of applications and exemplars in the living sciences. (26) Case studies of applications and exemplars in the socioeconmic sciences. (27) Case studies of utility of systems science for addressing current crisis problems & legislation. (28) Systems science, the brain sciences, and consciousness. (29) Milestones in systems science history and development. (30) Ethical implications of the systems sciences.

These topical headings are being used for the gradual construction of GENSYSML, an XML-based version of systems science for distribution via the Internet during the Post-Conference period. This Workshop will have a nominal $50 registration fee for attendees. Systems students with appropriate student identification will be allowed to participate at no cost. The registration fee will be used for distribution of copies of the above listings and for development of GENSYSML.

21 Post-conference Workshops and Activities - Friday, July 14

21.1 Sustainability Tour

Highlight the end of this enriching week by touring an intentional community where systems thinking flows through the decision processes.

The tour is sponsored by Daily Acts, a local nonprofit organization, focused on helping connect our daily actions to their environmental and social consequences.

Join them on a tour Friday afternoon, July 14th, from 1:30 to 5:30 to visit the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center, where for over a decade, this nonprofit organization and intentional community has been addressing environmental, social and economic crises with innovative and practical solutions, style and beauty. You'll be hosted by community member and wildlife biologist, Brock Dolman, Tuesday evenings' guest speaker. Brock is Director of OAEC's Water Institute, Permaculture Program and Co-Director of the Wildlands Biodiversity Program. He will delight you with his wealth of knowledge and practicality as we meander through decades old gardens surrounded by rolling hills of meadows and mixed oak, fir and redwood forests.

Tour participants will carpool as a group, leaving from and returning to SSU. Transportation is not provided. Sign up at ISSS registration on Sunday or Monday or at Tuesday evening's event. The cost per person is $50.

21.2 Workshop: Language, Cybernetics, and 'Knowing'

Presenters: Weld S. Carter, Jr; Martha A. Bartter; C. A. Hilgartner, MD
Time: 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM
A workshop exploring some limits on the degree of certainty a human may legitimately claim.

We have planned the workshop to include critical discussion of three papers, which also form parts of the program of SIGs? at the Sonoma conference. An Introduction here will provide a setting and furnish opportunity for extended discussion of relationships among the topics addressed. The papers to discuss:

  • Science, Cybernetics and 'Knowing'*, by Weld S. Carter, Jr.
  • Re-Constructing “Culture”*, by Martha A. Bartter
  • A Lethal Fundamental Error: How to Recognize, Reject & Replace It, by C. A. Hilgartner, MD
sonoma_2006_calls_for_papers.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/27 15:38 (external edit)