Madison 2008 Conference Announcement and Call for Participation

Main Conference Theme

Under the theme “Systems that Make a Difference”, the 52nd annual meeting of the ISSS will be held in Madison, Wisconsin from July 13 to 18, 2008.

The title for this conference, Systems that Make a Difference, borrows from Gregory Bateson’s definition of information as “a difference that makes a difference.” The question for systems researchers and practitioners is, “what difference are we making?”

The Challenge

The modern systems movement draws upon a rich tradition developed by some of the best and brightest minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. Systems and cybernetic concepts have filtered into much of the scientific literature of the past five decades, and today systems-inspired words such as feedback, input/output, regulation, and interdependence have found their way into common language.

And yet, the systems tradition itself appears to remain largely invisible as a body of knowledge to many of the scientists, academics, politicians and businesspeople who are making the decisions that deeply impact our collective social, economic, and ecological future. This represents a crucial opportunity for the systems community to make a difference in the world in ways that may matter most. Some questions naturally arise:
  • How can we as a community make systems concepts more accessible to decision makers and researchers in the larger global community?
  • How can members of the systems community apply the existing, rich knowledge base of systems concepts and methodologies toward making a positive, sustainable difference within our own spheres of influence?

Toward Making a Difference

The 52nd Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS 2008) will bring together professionals on the cutting-edge of the systems movement with influential decision makers facing far-reaching, real-world complexities on a daily basis. While we must continue to make systems theories and approaches ever more rigorous, to remain relevant we must also connect our work with the dilemmas in the world for which people are seeking solutions right now. The objective of ISSS 2008 is to further build much-needed bridges between rigor and relevance in systems work. Speakers and authors are invited to present who can address any part of this spectrum, from better methods for systems research to clarifying the nature of real-world problems in need of resolution.

We encourage those interested in attending our event to register today and become a part of creating this important event.

Confirmed Plenary Guest Speakers

  • Timothy F. H. Allen, President-elect, ISSS (2009) and Professor, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin
  • Steve Carpenter, Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin
  • Manfred Drack, Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science, Vienna, Austria
  • Jon Foley, Professor, Department of Sustainability and Global Environment, University of Wisconsin
  • David L. Hawk, Dean of the School of Management and Faculty in the New Jersey School of Architecture, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Doug McDavid, Executive Research Consultant, Almaden Research Center, San Jose, CA
  • Bobby Milstein, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Syndemics Prevention Network
  • Bill Rouse, Professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, with a joint appointment in the College of Computing. Also, Fellow, International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) 2006 and recipient of the IBM Faculty Award in 2005 and 2006
  • David Schwartz, Professor, Chemistry and Genetics, University of Wisconsin
  • David Waltner-Toews, Professor, Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph and founding president of the Network for Ecosystem Sustainability and Health
  • Jennifer Wilby, Director of the Centre for Systems Studies and faculty member in Management Systems at the University of Hull, UK

Call for Papers

Although the conference will accept papers related to the following areas of research, the list is neither exclusive nor restrictive. Proposals of new sessions and tracks are very welcome, but should be submitted for consideration by March 1, 2008. Each session chair takes the final responsibility for running his/her session. All submitted papers are encouraged to state how relevant the paper is with regard to systems thinking, systems modeling and/or systems practice. The areas listed below have additional contact and content information listed on the specific SIG Calls for Papers page.

Areas proposed by existing Special Integration Groups (SIGs) [click here for full contact details] and current exploratory groups:

  • Agent-based Social Systems Sciences
  • Aging Systems
  • Applied Systems & Development
  • Arts Based Inquiry
  • Daily Roundtable - please refer to the invitation by the Roundtable Coordinator
  • Designing Educational Systems
  • Duality Theory
  • Evolutionary Development
  • Foundations of Information Systems
  • Futurism & Systems Change
  • Hierarchy Theory
  • Human Systems Inquiry
  • Information Systems Design & Information Technology
  • Living Systems Analysis
  • Meta-Modeling & Systems Epistemology
  • Medical and Health Systems
  • Organizational Transformation & Social Change
  • Research Towards General Theories of Systems
  • Spirituality and Systems
  • Student SIG
  • Systems Applications in Business & Industry
  • Systems Biology and Evolution
  • Systems Modeling & Simulation
  • Systems Pathology
  • Systems Philosophy & Systems Ethics
  • Systems Psychology & Psychiatry
  • Systems Specific Technology
  • What is Life/Living
  • Women and Children

In addition to paper presentations, the Student SIG and Roundtable will organise sessions, and there will be Mini-Conversations again, based on interactions from the field trip experiences. Anyone who is interested in these sessions is welcome to participate in them without prior notice; no papers or abstracts are required in these sessions.