ISSS explores the multiple perspectives of systemics through its Special Integration Groups (SIGs). SIGs are formed from the collective interests of ISSS members, and represent the dynamics of creative exploration and philosophical/scientific integration that is at the core of ISSS work.
The integration and synthesis of knowledge is an important goal of ISSS. How do the various bodies of thought fit together? How are they similar? How do they differ? And, do they together form new and important insights to understand and comprehend our universe of knowledge? One means of facilitating this process is to form Special Integration Groups (SIGs).
Many organizations have SIGs, but that acronym stands for special “interest” groups in most. We all know that special interest groups tend to fragment organizations as well as knowledge. The ISSS is not a conglomerate that grows by fragmenting into special interest groups as members specialize in limited aspects of a discipline. It is the opposite. Through special integration groups, our society synthesizes diverse disciplinal knowledge into cohesive wholes, systemically integrating that knowledge.
In some cases members form SIGs that concern the integration of a specific discipline (e.g. philosophy or accounting) with other bodies of thought and the development of those disciplines through that interaction. In other cases, members may form SIGs concerned with more general conceptual frameworks (e.g. General Systems Theory, Living Systems Theory, or Hierarchy Theory) that are designed to integrate ideas of many different disciplines. The SIGs organize joint projects among themselves, forming a mosaic of integrative learning. In the absence of a specialist-styled core of knowledge, the SIGs act as search engines within the ISSS, providing orderly paths for newcomers to find their way into the diverse but systemically integrated body of knowledge that constitutes systems science. Within SIGs, pre-embryonic systems science cores develop and cross-fertilize with those of other SIGs.
Curiously enough, as organizations of special interest groups grow by increasing the number of their special interest groups, the ISSS grows as we increase the number of our special integration groups. These groups form the tentacles that reach into the diverse disciplines of human investigations to build the bridges among them for the unifying of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences. Those bridges are not built from one discipline to another through informal analogy and the forced-fitting of methods and models as often occurs in grand umbrella interdisciplinary organizations. Instead, as 2,000 years ago all roads were said to lead to Rome, the interdisciplinary bridges we build all lead through systems science. And, as with the great transportation hubs of today, you can go anywhere from there. When the bridge is built between systems science and a discipline, the whole world is open to that discipline and that discipline to the whole world.
Although we are drawn to our Society as generalists, our bread and butter jobs are mostly specialties. We are hybrids; and when we move outside our general theories, we often revert to our specialist ways. In our search for a systems science core, we overlook it because of its simplicity. We fail to find the core of knowledge that we seek because we seek it as specialists among specialists. The core is simply that all things real and imagined may be viewed as systems (sets of related and interacting elements) and, consequently, all things may be known by their relations and interrelations with all other things. But that statement is not enough to define a specialty and so the specialist in us persists in developing a special core of general knowledge.
(This text originally appeared on the ISSS website before 2004, and has been reinstated)