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

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SIG Session [clear filter]
Monday, August 3

16:00 CEST

Approach for a Cybernetic Management System for the Development of a Viable Disaster Management System for the State of Hawaii
avatar for Prof. Gerhard Chroust

Prof. Gerhard Chroust

Prof. emeritus, Johannes Kepler University Linz
SIG Chair: Resilience 4.0: ICT Support for Human Resilience in Crises and Old Age (see below for more details)Gerhard Chroust was born in 1941 in Vienna, Austria. He started to study Communications-electronics in 1959 and received a M.A. from the Vienna University of Technology in... Read More →


Monday August 3, 2015 16:00 - 16:30 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:30 CEST

Disaster-Management: Challenges for Computer-Supported Process and Project Management
Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Gerhard Chroust

Prof. Gerhard Chroust

Prof. emeritus, Johannes Kepler University Linz
SIG Chair: Resilience 4.0: ICT Support for Human Resilience in Crises and Old Age (see below for more details)Gerhard Chroust was born in 1941 in Vienna, Austria. He started to study Communications-electronics in 1959 and received a M.A. from the Vienna University of Technology in... Read More →

Monday August 3, 2015 16:30 - 17:00 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:00 CEST

Monday August 3, 2015 17:00 - 17:30 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

17:30 CEST

Monday August 3, 2015 17:30 - 18:00 CEST
Copenhagen 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Tuesday, August 4

13:30 CEST

Life Itself: A Relational Theory

Background: Robert Rosen claimed that the existence of life can be explained in terms of closed causal relations. This is quite a different approach from explaining life in terms of behavior alone. It defines life in terms of the way a system is "organized" across all levels of causation. In his book "Life Itself" Rosen described a minimum "organization" of relations between natural causes that could be called alive. His study of life followed along two lines of reasoning: (1) that causal organization can be described in Mathematics prior to quantification (using Category Theory), and (2) that all living systems involve "Modeling Relations" that are "anticipatory".  He did not integrate these two tracks in his work, but left that to his followers. He did, however, give many hints on how to do it, one being his diagram of a "Metabolism-Repair (M-R) System," another his diagram of a modeling relation. He explained that such systems cannot exist within the mathematical restrictions we adopted to describe a strictly mechanistic world (the Modernist view). There is a great deal we can learn from this initial work, and following Rosen's leads we can also move forward with developing a relational theory applicable to any system. We will examine the initial steps in doing that, as thoroughly as possible in 4 hours.

Workshop Agenda:

This workshop will be based on examining the four cause relational entailment structure outlined in Robert Rosen’s work in Category Theory entailments and Modeling Relations – that is, linking entailment with relation to form a meta-model of a ‘whole’ system that may also have the fundamental properties of life. We will go through the foundations of this idea and recent developments that seem very promising for articulating a theory of whole systems. The approach not only realizes Rosen’s concepts, but also the initial insight of Arthur Koestler working with Ludvig von Bertalanffy, into a new theoretical object that he called the “Holon”.

The Workshop will be conducted mainly as an interactive tutorial. Since there is a lot of difficult material to cover, there will not be time for a contributed paper stream. We may be able to integrate short, highly relevant contributions from participants by prior arrangement.

Hour One:  Definitions and Philosophical World View

In this section we will explore the fundamentally different perspectives of traditional science and relational science. We will see how ‘ontology’  (how we imagine nature to be) determines ‘epistemology’ (what we can learn about it); and how ‘crises’ arise when learning challenges those basic assumptions, leading to advances science to new paradigms. We will trace the key discoveries that shook up the modernist/positivist worldview and the surprising source of inspiration from our own ancient past that led to our post-modern view of physics. We will then see how that transition was ‘just enough’ for physics but not enough for biology, and we will examine how, by capturing more of the deep causality view, we can create a  new analytical method for understanding whole systems in terms of whole systems, using relational mathematics. We will thus discover the “relational holon”.

Hour Two:  Relational Frameworks

Armed with a basic ability to step into the relational universe, we will, in this section, examine mathematical constructions and deconstructions that derive from the relational holon, and how this view can provide a framework for conducting systems research. We will also compare this framework to many other research frameworks that are in surprising agreement but nevertheless remain isolated in different disciplines, despite their profound collective implication of a general pattern in nature.

Hour Three:  Methods and techniques

In this section we will introduce and discuss methods for applying relational analysis to problems, giving examples, and allowing participants to analyze a case of their own choosing. We will collectively explore methods and discuss their further development in various technical domains. We will also consider implications of the framework for coupling research models and establishing a new kind of informatics architecture.

Hour Four:  Case Studies

In the final section we will discuss results of our own case study attempts and compare them with other prepared examples. We will end with an open discussion of the utility of relational modeling and directions for future development, including its potential linkage to other approaches and contribution to the goal of finding a General System Theory.

It is highly recommended that workshop participants explore the following references prior to the workshop, and come equipped with relevant questions and/or insights:

Baianu, I.C. (2006) Robert Rosen’s Work and Complex Systems Biology. Axiomathes, 16, 25–34.

Checkland, P. (1988) The case for “holon.” Systemic Practice and Action Research, 1, 235–238.

Cilliers, P., Biggs, H.C., Blignaut, S., Choles, A.G., Hofmeyr, J.-H.S., Jewitt, G.P. & Roux, D.J. (2013) Complexity, modeling, and natural resource management. Ecology and Society, 18, 1.

Cornish-Bowden, A. (2006) Putting the Systems Back into Systems Biology. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 49, 475–489.

Cornish-Bowden, A. (2015) Tibor Gánti and Robert Rosen: contrasting approaches to the same problem. Journal of theoretical biology.

Cornish-Bowden, A. & Cárdenas, M.L. (2008) Self-organization at the origin of life. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 252, 411–418.

Cornish-Bowden, A. & Cárdenas, M.L. (2005) Systems biology may work when we learn to understand the parts in terms of the whole. Biochem.Soc.Trans., 33, 516–519.

Edmonds, B. (2007) The Practical Modelling of Context-Dependent Causal Processes – A Recasting of Robert Rosen’s Thought. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 4, 2386–2395.

Edwards, M.G. (2005) The integral holon: A holonomic approach to organisational change and transformation. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 18, 269–288.

Hoffmeyer, J. (1997) Biosemiotics: Towards a new synthesis in biology. European Journal for Semiotic Studies, 9, 355–376.

Hoffmeyer, J. (2001) Life and reference. Biosystems, 60, 123–130.

Hofmeyr, J.-H.S. (2011) Relational humanism. The Humanist Imperative in South Africa, 181.

Hofmeyr, J.-H.S. (2007) The biochemical factory that autonomously fabricates itself: a systems biological view of the living cell. A: Boogerd, F. C, 217–242.

Kineman, J.J. (2011) Relational Science: A Synthesis. Axiomathes, 21, 393–437.

Kineman, J.J. (2012a) R-Theory: A Synthesis of Robert Rosen’s Relational Complexity. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 29, 527–538.

Kineman, J.J. (2012b) The Ontology of Anticipation. Anticipatory systems: philosophical, mathematical, and methodological foundations IFSR international series on systems science and engineering., Springer, New York.

Kineman, J.J. & Poli, R. (2014) Ecological Literacy Leadership: Into the Mind of Nature. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, 95, 30–58.

Koestler, A. (1969) Beyond atomism and holism: the concept of the holon. Beyond reductionism, 192–232.

Louie, A.H. & Poli, R. (2011) The spread of hierarchical cycles. International Journal of General Systems, 40, 237–261.

Luz Cárdenas, M., Letelier, J.-C., Gutierrez, C., Cornish-Bowden, A. & Soto-Andrade, J. (2010) Closure to efficient causation, computability and artificial life. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 263, 79–92.

Miller, R., Poli, R. & Rossel, P. (2013) The Discipline of Anticipation: Exploring Key Issues, UNESCO, Paris.

Nadin, M. (2010) Anticipation and dynamics: Rosen’s anticipation in the perspective of time. International Journal of General Systems, 39, 3–33.

Poli, R. (2010a) An introduction to the ontology of anticipation. Futures, 42, 769–776.

Poli, R. (2009) The complexity of anticipation. Balkan Journal of Philosophy, 19–29.

Poli, R. (2010b) The Complexity of Self-reference. A Critical Evaluation of Luhmann’s Theory of Social Systems.

Rosen, R. (2012) Anticipatory systems: philosophical, mathematical, and methodological foundations, 2nd ed. Springer, New York.

Rosen, R. (1993a) Drawing the Boundary Between Subject and Object: Comments on the Mind-Brain Problem. Theoretical Medicine, 14, 89–100.

Rosen, R. (1999) Essays on Life Itself, Columbia University Press, New York, NY.

Rosen, R. (1991) Life itself: a comprehensive inquiry into the nature, origin, and fabrication of life, Columbia University Press.

Rosen, R. (1993b) On models and modeling. Applied Mathematics and Computation, 56, 359–372.

Rosen, R. (1994) On Psychomimesis. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 171, 87–92.

Rosen, R. (1990) The Modeling Relation and natural law. Mathematics and Science, pp. 183–199. World Scientific Publishing.




John Kineman

SIG Chair: Relational Science, International Society for the System Sciences
Senior Research Scientist, CIRES, University of Colorado Stellenbosch Research Fellow (2016), Stellenbosch South AfricaAdjunct Professor, Vignan University, Vadlamudi, IndiaPresident (2015-2016), International Society for the Systems Sciences ISSS SIG Chair: Relational ScienceDr... Read More →

ISSS Board & SIG Chairs
avatar for Judith Rosen

Judith Rosen

CEO, Rosen Enterprises
SIG Co-Chair: Relational ScienceJudith Rosen is a writer, researcher, and artist who, through interaction with her father, the mathematial biologist Robert Rosen, has a comprehensive understanding of his scientific work. She traveled on numerous scientific trips with Robert Rosen... Read More →

Tuesday August 4, 2015 13:30 - 15:30 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

16:00 CEST

Systems Thinking for Evaluating in the Anthropocene

The broad aim of this workshop is to provide some better preparation amongst systems thinking practitioners for opportunities of engaging with other professional fields of relevant practice.  The specific purpose is to enable systems practitioners to better understand contemporary challenges of evaluation through a brief systemic inquiry into alternative models of evaluation praxis.

Workshop participants will: 

gain a better understanding of what helps and hinders the uptake of systems thinking and complexity ideas amongst evaluators and commissioners, programme managers,  and policy makers;

acquire some practical experience in using a CSH-lite approach into ideal modelling;

understand the potential contribution of evaluation approaches in their systems practice

develop an initial platform for further exploration of purposeful systemic evaluation. 

Evaluation is the systematic, evidence-based assessment of the value, worth, merit and significance of a project, program, design or any form of intervention.  Evaluation is increasingly recognised as professionalised practise to support the implementation and development of policies, programmes and projects.   Over the past fifty years it has become an established craft; with 106 national associations of practitioners, with combined membership of many tens of thousands. 

Many evaluators,  policy makers and commissioners  particularly in domains of sustainable development and climate change acknowledge that ‘systems approaches’ and ‘recognition of complexity’ are needed.  Indeed to some extent ‘systems’ and ‘complexity’ have been anointed as the next big thing in evaluation.  Despite this, there is still limited actionable understanding of what that thing is, what to do with it, and – most importantly - what the implications are for evaluators and other stakeholders.

The three co-authors/ facilitators of the workshop have each had over ten years experience in working with evaluators promoting systems thinking in practice.  The workshop builds on these experiences, alongside those of workshop participants, in line with some findings from a small action research programme undertaken in the past year by the co-authors entitled ‘Helps and Hinders’. The research has been undertaken with members of the American Evaluation Association (AEA) and the European Evaluation Society (EES) as well as other national and local evaluation professional bodies, to explore what helps with, and what hinders , the uptake of systems thinking and complexity ideas in evaluation practise.

Using these findings as a platform, the workshop design is based on a light-touch application of critical systems heuristics (what we call CSH-lite); a process of ideal design modelling capturing core influences of human systems intervention including (i) values, (ii) power, (iii) knowledge, and (iv) social legitimacy.  The workshop deliberations are orchestrated around an interactive mix of plenary discussion and mini-presentation, and small-group work modelling exercises.  After a short briefing on the helps and hinders research findings, participants will develop simple ideal models of better systemic evaluation based on conversations around (i) impact (cf. values), (ii) decision making (cf. power), and (iii) appropriate forms of know-how and expertise (cf. knowledge).  These group models are shared at plenary.  A final plenary conversation will explore the fourth dimension of  this CSH-lite enquiry - (iv) opportunities and challenges (‘helps and hinders’)  with implementing the idealised model (s) in the real world (cf. issues of social legitimacy). The discussion will explore ways in which to counter prevailing mindsets and politics that may impede systemic evaluation.

A maximum number of 40 participants is recommended for this workshop.  Prior registration on the workshop is strongly recommended in order to avoid disappointment.


avatar for Richard Hummelbrunner

Richard Hummelbrunner

Senior Associate, OEAR Regionalberatung
In the past Richard Hummelbrunner has worked extensively as practitioner and advisor in the field of regional policy at various levels (local, national, EU, international development).During recent years Richard’s interest has shifted to evaluation, and has gained extensive experience... Read More →
avatar for Martin Reynolds

Martin Reynolds

Senior Lecturer, The Open University
Systems Thinking in Practice Postgraduate Qualifications Director Distance learning Developmental Evaluation ISSS Regular Environmental responsibility
avatar for Bob Williams

Bob Williams

Independent Consultant, Bob Williams
Independent consultant evaluator, based in New Zealand and holder of the current 2014 -15 Lazarsfeld Evaluation Theory Award from the American Evaluation Association. Has worked for the past few years on ways to make the systems and evaluation fields more attractive to each other... Read More →

Tuesday August 4, 2015 16:00 - 18:00 CEST
Copenhagen 2 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Wednesday, August 5

16:30 CEST

Systemic Design Workshop
An interactive workshop on systemic design for general and open attendance.  Following an introduction to principles and processes, small groups will form to construct design models in application areas of interest to participants (e.g. urban ecology, healthcare systems, political governance, sustainable business ). The workshop is largely based on the 10 Systemic Design principles (Jones, 2014) and Methods (http://systemic-design.net/rsd3-proceedings/theories-methods/

Presenter / Artist
avatar for Prof. Peter Jones

Prof. Peter Jones

Associate Professor, SFI Graduate Program, sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab), OCAD University
SIG Chair:  Systemic DesignPeter is a US citizen that moved to Canada to discover new movements in socially-responsive innovation. He was a founding faculty in the SFI program and maintains connections to international research and design communities of practice, which he hopes to... Read More →

Wednesday August 5, 2015 16:30 - 18:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Thursday, August 6

16:00 CEST

The Apithology of Humanity Psychology: An Introduction
Presenter / Artist
avatar for Will Varey

Will Varey

Principal, Apithologia
William Varey (PhD) works as a systems science researcher with a focus on sustainable social systems. His area of specialist contribution is in the systemic approach to the formation of generative potentials. He is a lecturer in systems approaches to systemic change management, sustainability... Read More →

Thursday August 6, 2015 16:00 - 18:00 CEST
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany