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Registration open daily from 8am - 6pm.  Please join us for the #ISSS2015 #Roundtable at 7.45am each morning.

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Tuesday, August 4 • 16:30 - 17:00
Systems Research: How Do We Discover What We Need to Know, According to Whom, and for What Purpose?

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The idea of the Anthropocene, an era in which human presence and behavior have become the most important factors of change on the Earth, increases long-standing questions about research.  How do we discover what we need to know according to whom and for what purpose? 

At a time in which the most troubling problems are often labeled as systemic (e.g. global financial relationships, environmental concerns, weather-related catastrophes, etc.) there is a need to reevaluate the ways in which we learn about and model the worlds in which we live. Increasingly, thought leaders recognize that critical thinking and positivistic approaches, while valuable, are insufficient to comprehensively and constructively address the most pressing issues of our time. It is not enough to diagnose problems through reductionist approaches. As the urgency of issues related to governing the Anthropocene becomes more prevalent, Systems Research is gaining increased attention across and beyond the Systems Sciences.

Most research is still judged by the tenants of traditional science, which include the isolation of variables in controlled settings, measurement and quantitative analyses of data, and extrapolation of findings to a wider universe (i.e. beyond the studied samples).  Qualitative research methods (including phenomenology, grounded theory, action research, and others) offer alternative approaches for studying humans, but are considered to be less rigorous than quantitative methods in many academic realms.  Methods such as System Dynamics attempt to capture relationships between variables, but are often limited (in this case, primarily to feedback between variables in the form of stocks and flows).

An equally challenging problem is the degree to which knowledge remains defined within long-standing disciplines, with little capacity for transcending those barriers.  At best, each discipline tends to project its own views and knowledge as somewhat universal principles. Most research is still judged by the tenants of traditional science, which include the isolation of variables in controlled settings, measurement and quantitative analyses of data, and extrapolation of findings to a wider universe (i.e. beyond the studied samples).  Qualitative research methods (including phenomenology, grounded theory, action research, and others) offer alternative approaches for studying humans, but are considered to be less rigorous than quantitative methods in many academic realms. 

Governing the Anthropocene requires not only systemic understanding but systemic leadership. Systems Research is part of a portfolio of systemic approaches to help leaders and stakeholders assess, design, develop, implement, and evaluate programs for effective governance of the Anthropocene.

At the IFSR Conversation (2014), an inquiry by a team of systemicists delved into questions related to the need, value, definition, and distinctions of Systems Research. The Systems Research Team’s (SRT) work focused on a compelling question, “What distinguishes Systems Research from other forms of research?” This question propelled the Conversation in multiple directions; however, two threads predominated – those that were divergent (e.g. the broad scope of the Systems Sciences) and those that were convergent (e.g. definition of rigorous research and modeling). As a result, the SRT’s Conversation began to scope out the breadth and depth of this subject. The SRT proposed a framework for examining several questions related to designing, developing, conducting, and evaluating Systems Research. Ultimately, the SRT proposed another compelling question for the future work of the SRT and the Systems community, “What can WE provide to enhance the quality and impact of Systems Research?”

To address this latter question, two additional provocative questions concerning Systems Research have emerged:

What is missing in current research approaches that systems approaches can bridge?

Why does it matter?

This presentation will address these questions by exploring the literature that has addressed the distinguishing dynamics of systemic approaches to research and problem solving. This retrospective will be the foundation for interactive dialogue with ISSS participants attending this session. The intention is to develop a leadership path for Systems Research and its role in more effective governance of the Anthropocene.


Moderators
avatar for Shankar Sankaran

Shankar Sankaran

Professor, School of the Built Environment, University of Technology Sydney
Vice President Research and Publications, International Society for the Systems Sciences. | IG Chair: Action ResearchSIG | | Shankar Sankaran specialises in project management, systems thinking and action research. He is a Core Member of a UTS Research Centre on Megaprojects . He teaches project management at post-graduate level, in particular, Systems Thinking for Managers; Negotiation and Conflict Management; and governance and... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Mary Edson

Mary Edson

President, maredson.s3@gmail.com
Mary Edson is President of the International Federation for Systems Research.  As a Scholar/Practitioner whose major interests are in Complex Adaptive Social Systems, she teaches courses in Executive Leadership, Strategic Project Management, and Talent Management including Diversity and Inclusion. Through experiential learning and development of organizational leadership competencies, her students apply systems thinking to improve business... Read More →
avatar for Gary Metcalf

Gary Metcalf

President, gmetcalf@InterConnectionsLLC.com
President, International Federation for Systems Research | Gary S. Metcalf received a PhD in Human Science in 2000 at the Saybrook Graduate School. His doctoral research was conducted under the mentorship of Béla H. Bánáthy, focused on Social Systems Design and Organizational Development.Metcalf began his professional career as a systems-oriented family therapist, then spent twelve years in large corporations... Read More →


Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:30 - 17:00
Elk Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

Attendees (7)