Pre-Conference Workshops

Pre-Conference Workshop One: July 9-11, 2009, Systems Thinking for Complex Problem Solving

Pre-Conference Workshop Two: Sunday July 12, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Professor Len Troncale: The System of Systems Processes Theory (SoSP), A workshop on how systems work (or don't work)

Pre-Conference Workshop Three: Sunday July 12, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dr John Kineman and Judith Rosen: Fundamentals of Relational Sciences


1. Systems Thinking for Complex Problem Solving

July 9-11 2009


Professor Kambiz Maani, Chair in Systems Thinking and Practice - School of Integrative Systems, University of Queensland, AUS

Professor John Bliss, Oregon State University, USA

Dr Carl Smith, School of Integrative Systems, UQ, AUS

Professor Ockie Bosch, Head, School of Integrative Systems, UQ, AUS


Collaborative Learning Centre

Room 219 Building 14 – St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland

Workshop Brief

This workshop introduces Systems Thinking as an integrating paradigm and set of tools for complex problem solving in general, and natural resource management and sustainability in particular.

The workshop integrates Systems Thinking theory and tools in the context of a real-life case. The selected case attempts to address policy, planning and organisational issues related to sustainable tourism in Cambodia using integrated and systemic frameworks. It is expected that key officials from Cambodia will participate as informants for this workshop.

Thus, over 2 days, workshop participants will be exposed to and engage in a real multi dimensional decision-making/problem-solving challenge. The case will be used as a learning platform throughout the workshop.

Note about the ISSS 2009 Conference: This is a pre-conference workshop of the International Society for the Systems Sciences. If you wish to register for the conference, which follows directly after the workshop from 12 to 17 July 2009, please visit the


Day 1, Thursday 9 July

9:00am–5:00pm- Problem Structuring

Professor John Bliss

After a round of introductions we will invest the morning in sharpening our research skills, with special emphasis on case study research. We’ll cover articulating effective research questions, designing an efficient research approach, and selecting appropriate methods. We’ll review case study design and application, data collection and analysis. The remainder of the day will be dedicated to applying case study design concepts to a real-world issue involving natural resource management and sustainable tourism in Cambodia.

Day 2, Friday 10 July

9:00am–12:00pm - Systems Thinking for Managing Complexity – Theory and Practice

Professor Kambiz Maani

This session will introduce Systems Thinking concepts and its qualitative modelling tool known as Causal Loops Diagrams (CLD) as a common ‘language’ for stakeholder communication and problem solving. The Iceberg Model will be discussed as a framework for integration and complex multi-stakeholder problem solving. The UNESCO biosphere project in VietNam (Cat Ba Island) will be discussed as a demonstration case of the application of Systems Thinking in multi-dimensional multi-stakeholder problems - in this case the role of integrated policy and planning in social, environmental, and economic domains.

1:00pm–5:00pm - Bayesian Belief Networks – a tool for group decision support and adaptive management

Dr. Carl Smith & Professor Ockie Bosch

This session will focus on the application of Bayesian Networks as a knowledge integration tool for natural resource management. The first part will include an introduction to Bayesian Network models and examples of how they have been applied to natural resource management problems. The second part will involve a practical session in which you will build your own Bayesian Network model for a chosen case study topic.

Day 3, Saturday 11 July

9:00am-12:00pm - Integrating Tools for Strategic Thinking

John Bliss and Carl Smith, facilitated by Kambiz Maani

This session will combine the concepts and tools learned in the first two days and will provide guidelines on how to integrate these and other relevant tools for problem solving  and strategic thinking in complex domains.

Registration Form

Please note that numbers are restricted to ensure a high quality experience for participants. Early registration is essential to book a place. Please contact: or fax: +61 7 3365 9016 or click here to download the booking form.


If you are a student already registered with the ISSS conference, you will not pay any additional fees for the pre-conference workshop. Please write your ISSS registration number in the payment fees due line of the pre-conference workshop registration form.

If you are a student who has not yet registered for the ISSS Conference, then by registering for the pre-conference you will be able to attend the ISSS conference for the additional cost of US$50 to cover refreshments, lunches and conference materials. You may also wish to register for the opening reception (US$25) and (US$50) for the banquet. Please indicate which of these you require on the pre-conference booking form.


Workshop attendees are requested to book directly with accommodation providers in Brisbane. See ISSS 2009 Conference website for more information (

Less costly accommodation is available on the St Lucia Campus of The University of Queensland.

Download a copy of the campus map in PDF format (500K file size).

St Leo's College website | booking form)
$60/night for standard room with shared bathroom facilities, includes meals
(Booking form attached to add to ISSS website, approximately 60 rooms set aside)

The Women's College website | booking form)
$76/night for single room with ensuite facilities, includes hot breakfast
$65/night for single room with shared facilities, includes hot breakfast
(Booking form attached to add to ISSS website, approximately 80 rooms set aside, 20 ensuite rooms and 60-80 single rooms with shared facilities)

All registrants for pre-conference, please book your accommodation directly by using the booking form links above (ie arr: 8/9 July and dep: 17 July 2009).


2. Workshop Two

John Kineman and Judith Rosen
An Update on 2008 workshop on Fundamentals of Relational Sciences


3. Workshop Two


Len Troncale & Student Fellows

Dept. of Biology and

Institute for Advanced Systems Studies

California State Polytechnic University

Pomona, California, 91768


How can one apply the new “system of systems” (SoS) knowledge to design or “heal” “human” or hybrid “human-natural” systems & improve their sustainability without a detailed knowledge of how systems work? Just as modern medicine requires a very detailed knowledge of how your normal body system works, an astonishing array of diagnostic measures, a deep understanding of interactions, a panoply of treatments, and a philosophy of “not doing harm when intervening,” so also will systems science need a detailed SoSP-based systems pathology to solve systems problems. Where will you as a student of systems get such a detailed knowledge?

Even the most recent generation of systems science approaches still does not have the unified theory necessary to approach solution of SoS crises. Yet large-scale crisis problems such as breakdown of international financial stability, pandemics, global warming, weather disasters, world hunger, species extinction, energy systems will not wait. The need is great; the need is now. “In each of these cases, fundamental understanding concerning the evolution of interacting subsystems into a mature system was missing. This lack of understanding prevented the prediction of now-obvious outcomes with information that was, in hindsight, clearly available.” (1)

The SoSP model provides systems researchers with an alternative approach. This model is a candidate general theory of systems that emphasizes detailed knowledge of a hundred systems processes (or mechanisms) by which systems work (or don’t work when the processes go awry). Unlike other candidate general theories, the SoSP model focuses on many systems mechanisms. In fact, the SoSP proposes numerous “Linkage Propositions” that describe & formalize how the many systems processes interact to produce key systems structures & behaviors.

This four-hour, pre-conference workshop presents and discusses 20 aspects of the SoSP. During this time, you will gain a comprehensive overview of the underlying theory that may best inform you in solving systems problems. We need to have students who have the knowledge & tools to more effectively deal with these challenges now & in the future. If you have not been trained in a wide range of systems mechanisms, or more importantly how those processes interact in a network of complexity, this may be where you can begin to get that vital training. Join us also if you want to get in on the ground floor of the Institute for Systems-Integrated Sciences (ISIS) or the Federation of Pacific Rim Complex Systems Institutes (PARCSI). 

Some of the topics we will cover include:

  • Defining what we face & what we need: sustainability & crisis SOS human problems, 

  • Tenets & initial findings of the SoSP 

  • What is a Systems Process (SP)? Lists & Descriptions of 100+ isomorphic SP’s

  • Case Studies across 7 natural sciences & social science of selected Systems Processes

  • Twenty things that should be known about each Systems Process & how to get that info to student users

  • Defining hundreds of Linkage Propositions; the crucial difference in the SoSP

  • How the SoSP naturally generates useful new disciplines like Systems Pathology, Artificial Systems Research, Systems Allometry, & Comparative Systems Analysis (CSA)

  • Computerized tools for building, sharing, and using SoSP, and much more …

Registration and Arrangements: Instead of hardcopy handouts, we will issue two-month subscriptions to our CSA Wiki site for the Workshop Registration fee of US$100. As soon as registration is received, a user name and password will allow participants access to the 200 slide power points, foundation research articles, & the electronic versions of the 30 SoSP introductory posters shown at the ISSS conference. Two alternative registrations would be: (a) US$35 if no handouts or Wiki password, just witnessing attendance, or (b) “your proposal” of "long term participation" in the project via the internet for US$25. Please contact for payment instructions as soon as possible.

[1] System of Systems Colloquium: Exploring the State-of-the-Art of System of Systems: Theory, Applications, and Vital Issues (Sponsored by and a Report to the National Science Foundation 

Washington, D.C.)