International Society for the Systems Sciences

Introducing the ISSS

The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) is one of the oldest and most broadly based transdisciplinary organizations in the world. Originally named the "Society for General Systems Research," it was formally established at the 1956 AAAS meeting under the leadership of biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, economist Kenneth Boulding, mathematician-biologist Anatol Rapoport, neurophysiologist Ralph Gerard, psychologist James Grier Miller and anthropologist Margaret Mead.

The founders of ISSS felt strongly that the systemic (wholistic) aspect of reality was being overlooked or downgraded by the conventional disciplines, which emphasize specialization and reductionist approaches to science. The founders stressed the need for more general principles and theories, and sought to create a professional organization that would transcend the tendency toward fragmentation in the scientific enterprise.

In the half century since the founding of ISSS, humanity has achieved a remarkable synthesis of science and technology. Some fragmentation has been overcome enabling us to apply science and technology to the construction of our physical, social, and cultural reality on a massive scale. However, significant, and deep-rooted fragmentation remains. We have been less successful in establishing a graceful or even, workable relationship between humanity, nature, science, and technology.

With members from 30 countries and virtually every recognized discipline, the ISSS is uniquely positioned to take the next step, to foster a more systemic view of science and technology.

ISSS is one of the few societies world-wide that studies processes that go across disciplinary lines in its search for systems methods and systems analogies. Each analogy is based on formal, verifiable similarities simultaneously valid for the many unique systems despite their widely differing scales of magnitude and complexity.

The theoretical-empirical studies such as these are commonly excluded from specialty fields by the nature of their defining boundaries, their methodologies, and their focus on only certain dimensions of reality to the exclusion of others. The ISSS was created to provide a forum and base, that is inherently trans-disciplinary, for such increasingly timely and important studies.

The systems approach calls for a multi-level of understanding that crosses the boundaries between the humanities, the arts, the sciences, and technologies. It certainly calls for linkages between disciplines, linkages that embrace different ways of knowing, and different ways of being.


The Organization of ISSS

ISSS is organized to achieve such linkages. The Society is structured to encourage research and facilitate communication between and among scientists and professionals from various disciplines and professions at local, regional, national, and international levels.

An organizational feature unique to ISSS is the Special Integration Group (SIG). Each SIG allows the organization to approach systems work from a particular perspective. ISSS believes that multiple SIGs, working in collaboration, yield the kind of synergy that is needed to embrace reality in a meaningful manner. The SIGs span a wide spectrum of disciplined inquiry, exhibit remarkable tolerance for ambiguity, and tolerance for each other. This is the environment in which it becomes possible to consider philosophy, theory, and practice to be inseparable.

Membership in the ISSS

Annual membership in the ISSS provides a growing list of benefits:

The opportunity to make contributions in our annual meetings
Membership in one or more of our SIGs
A personal copy on a compact disc of the full Proceedings of the annual meeting
A subscription to the journal, Systems Research and Behavioral Science, that includes as a special edition for ISSS, the General Systems Yearbook edition. and reduced rates for other systems related journals
Copies of the ISSS Bulletin, which includes editorials, short papers, information about various activities, meetings, and publications in the systems field
Access to the ISSS via the internet, as well as participation in on-line discussions and virtual conferences.

Board of Directors

Bela Antal Banathy
G.A. Swanson
Peter Corning
Harold Linstone
Martin W. Hall
Carl Slawski
Janet Allen
Jennifer M. Wilby
Robert (Bob) Elmore

For more information contact:

Bela Antal Banathy
VP for Adminstration
38 Seca Place
Salinas, CA 93908 USA
Phone: (831) 375-7614


G.A. Swanson
ISSS Past-President
c/o Tennessee Technological University
P.O. Box 5024
Cookeville, TN 38505 USA
Phone: (931) 372-3883