Student Paper Awards

The ISSS may award one or several Memorial Awards at each Annual Meeting. These awards are given in the names of Sir Geoffrey Vickers, Anatol Rapoport, and Margaret Mead, recognizing outstanding work by a student in distinct domains the systems sciences.  The Vickers award encourages contributions to areas of consideration where systems approaches stand to enrich the social sciences, humanities and the arts.  The Rapoport award recognizes works in the domains of the physical sciences, the life sciences, mathematics and engineering.  The Mead award considers contributions across the domains considered by both the Vickers and the Rapoport awards, but distinguishes those that place special emphases on feminist, collectivist, and culturally pluralistic perspectives.

The Spirit of Sir Geoffrey Vickers

The Sir Geoffrey Vickers Memorial Award commemorates the life and works of Sir Geoffrey Vickers. His view of the human condition as fundamentally embedded in a web of value relations, and of the dilemma of human action as both rational and valuative, lead him to the formulation of the Appreciative Systems approach. The spirit of his lifework is tremendously contemporary, even though he wrote his most significant works in the early second half of the 20th century: society as evolutionarily emergent; participative and interactive communication as a creative agent; humanization as the necessary normative component of socialization — all this as part of what he called "a science of human ecology." It is through a truly integrative and systemic approach to our humanity that Sir Geoffrey believed we can learn to navigate multi-valued choice in the ways we structure and value our situation. Being critical (without criticizing), judging (without being judgmental), and engaging in normative decision taking (without ignoring or subjugating the interests of others) — these are the challenges of a science of human ecology as he saw it.  The realization that "Science is human"(1) derives from his assertion that we are "incorrigible valuers."(2)  Indeed, it was Sir Geoffrey's fundamental affirmation that only by learning to be appreciative systems, ourselves, will we create social structures capable of supporting the essence of our humanity. The ISSS Vickers Award seeks to recognize promising work that advances the systems sciences toward this vision.

(1) Vickers, G. (1968) Value Systems and Social Process, Pelican Books, Middlesex, England, p.214.

(2) Ibid. 214.

The Vision of Anatol Rapoport

The Anatol Rapoport Memorial Award is offered in recognition of the best student paper presented at the annual ISSS Conference in a quantitative, engineering, hard science, natural science, technological, or logico-empirical systems framework.  Submissions that present any one or combination of these perspectives will be eligible for this award.  As such, it is distinct from the Sir Geoffrey Vickers Award which, as described above, is offered in recognition of work presented in a qualitative, humanistic, social science, artistic, phenomenological, or spiritual-intuitive systems framework (again, any one or combination of these).  This award honors the contributions of one of the original founders of the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory, the original precursor of which the ISSS is a direct descendent.(3)  Rapoport joined his skills in mathematics and formal logic with those of biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy, economist Kenneth E. Boulding, and psychologist, Ralph W. Gerard to establish the aims of the original Society in 1954 in support of what came to be known as the Systems Movement.  These aims included the idea that, as a result of work across different disciplines of knowledge, there would arise a high-level meta-theory of systems that could be mathematically expressed.  His vision focused on what he characterized as "the creative exploration of analogies,"(4) especially those deducible from mathematical models.  Such efforts served to illustrate his conviction of the fundamental interconnectedness of everything to everything else, as he expressed so eloquently in his keynote address to the ISSS/World Congress of the System Sciences in 2000.  On that occasion, he pointed out that the symbol for the Society was the integration symbol from mathematics — the ∫ sign — and that exploration of mathematical analogies or "isomorphisms" is the main interest of a general system-theory.  The ISSS Rapoport Award seeks to recognize promising work in the systems sciences in this spirit of inquiry.

(3) Checkland, P. (1993) Systems Thinking, Systems Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England, p. 93.

(4) Hammond, D. (2003) The Science of Synthesis, University Press of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA, p. 157.


The Empowerment of Margaret Mead

The Margaret Mead Memorial Award was established in 2013 to commemorate the memory of the first woman to serve as President of the ISSS (at a time when it was called the International Society for General Systems Research – ISGSR – in 1972).  Margaret Mead was involved with the society since it was first established as the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1956.  At that meeting, she admonished the newly formed society to apply systems principles to itself as an organization, "with the aim of fostering a more collaborative and inclusive organizational structure."(5)  Her work with indigenous – or more properly, autochthonous – peoples the world over emphasized the role of the individual in the collective, and the role of the collective as enabler for the flourishing of the individual.  Deeply committed to social process, Mead's view of systems was fundamentally relational.  Sir Ken Robinson notes that ‎"human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability, and the heart of our challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence."(6)  It is in this spirit of relational intelligence, drawing on the type of systemic consciousness so well embodied by Margaret Mead, that this award has been established.  Whereas the other two Student Paper Awards both celebrate the vision for inspired systemic thought, being, and action as embodied and manifest through the efforts of individuals such as Sir Geoffrey Vickers and Anatol Rapoport, the Margaret Mead Memorial Award recognizes contributions to systems experience, thinking, design, and action that empower individuals in communities, and in so doing, empower communities as purposeful systems in their own right.  This award invites papers that address contemporary challenges in ways that advance understanding of how collective intelligence and collective impact(7) foster emergence, thrivability and systemic wellbeing.   The ISSS honors Margaret Mead and the inspirational role her work continues to play in the life of the society, as attested to by her presence on the main page of our website (  

(5) Hammond, D. (2003). The Science of Synthesis, University Press of Colorado, Boulder CO, USA, p. 249.

(6) Robinson, Ken (2010).  Bring on the learning revolution! TED Talk – online at [sourced 10 February 2013]. 

(7) Kania, J. and Kramer, M. (2013). Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity, Stanford Social Innovation Review – online at  [sourced 10 February 2013].


Prospectus for students presenting a paper at an annual meeting

In memory of the humanistic vision of Sir Geoffrey Vickers, the integrative vision of Anatol Rapoport, and the collectivist vision of Margaret Mead, and in recognition of their deep commitment to, and belief in, the power of young people to contribute creatively to the betterment of the human condition, a plaque and check for $500 will be awarded for the best student paper in each of the three award domains.  The Vickers Award, the Rapoport Award, and the Mead Award recognize outstanding work done in the domain of the systems sciences, and are considered the most prestigious prizes in the field at the pre-doctoral level.  Submissions that draw on perspectives covered by any of these three Awards are warmly invited. Generally speaking, it will be in the author's best interest to indicate for which award they wish to have their submission considered.

  • The competition takes place only once a year.
  • It is open to all students from any country.
  • The student must actively request that their paper be considered for the Vickers Award OR the Rapoport Award OR the Mead Award OR any combination of the three.  However, a paper may receive only one award.
  • The student must submit the paper to the ISSS Office in addition to submitting the paper online to the Journals site. The eMail to the ISSS Office accompanying the paper should indicate that the student wishes this paper to be submitted for the Award(s) of their interest.
  • Only student authored papers are eligible for consideration, and preference will be given to individually authored work. If any part of the paper is the work of a student’s supervisor or other mentor, then the paper is not eligible.
  • Only one paper per student should be submitted for consideration in any given year.
  • A single outstanding paper will be selected each year for each award category (Awards will no longer be split between two winners).
  • A full paper must be submitted by the publication deadline and will be included on the web proceedings unless stated otherwise by the Student Award committee.
  • Certification must be provided showing that this work was performed while the contestant was a student and, in the case of recent graduates, that it has been submitted for consideration no later than one year from the date of the award of their terminal degree (Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctorate).
  • Previous winners of this Award Competition may not enter again.
  • Student papers will be judged for each Award by separate committees convened by the ISSS President and VP Research and Publications.
  • In any given year, any one or even up to all three Awards may not given if no paper is found to qualify for the established Award categories.  As such, none of these Award need be granted obligatorily each year, but will only be bestowed if merited by specific submissions.

A student registration form and the student registration fee should accompany the paper submission. The registration fee includes membership in the ISSS for the following year, with the usual membership benefits.

The successful paper may be scheduled for presentation in a plenary session during the conference at the discretion of the President and the Program Committee.

If it is not possible for the student to travel to the conference, it may be possible to arrange for a video link (depending on the facilities available to the conference) or another person may make the presentation on the student's behalf. The preferred options are as follows and in order of preference:

  • that the winning Vickers, Rapoport, and Mead Award papers be presented in Plenary in person by the winners; or
  • that they be presented "virtually"; or
  • that they be presented in absentia by a designated proxy as long as the student has also submitted and paid for registration of their paper.


Previous Sir Geoffrey Vickers Award Winners

1985 New York Ib Ravn
1986 Philadelphia Doug Elias
1987 Budapest two awards: Alexander Laszlo (sole author); Lynda J. Davies and Paul W.J. Ledington (co-authors)
1988 St Louis Donald de Raadt
1989 Edinburgh Bela A Banathy
1990 Portland two awards: Sally Goerner; Daune West
1991 Sweden Erin Artigiani, Cliff Joslyn
1992 Denver Sen Suan Tan
1993 Australia Jeremy Chui
1994 Asilomar T. Dahl and Darek Erikson
1995 Amsterdam two awards: Craig Crabtree; Jennifer Wilby
1996 Louisville Parviz Ahari
1996 Budapest No Award
1997 Seoul, Korea No Award
1998 Atlanta Martine Dodds
1999 Asilomar Molly Dwyer and Jane Zimmerman
2000 Toronto two awards: Gabor Horvath; Kathia Laszlo
2001 Asilomar Lynn M. Rasmussen
2002 Shanghai, China two awards: Pamela Buckle; K. C. Wang
2003 Crete Sabrina Brahms
2004 Asilomar Janette Young
2005 Cancun Honorato Teissier
2006 Sonoma Hanne Birgitte Jensen
2007 Tokyo Nicholas Magliocca
2008 Madison Devin Wixon
2009 Brisbane Anne Stephens
2010 Waterloo Todd D. Bowers
2011 Hull Mary Edson
2012 San Jose William J. Varey
2013 Hai Phong, Viet Nam Victor MacGill
2014 Washington, DC Anne Powel Davis
2015 Berlin, Germany Alexandre Strapasson
2016 Boulder, Colorado Skyler Knox Perkins
2017 Vienna, Austria No award.
2018 Corvallis Oregon
Sage McKenzie Kittleman
2019 Corvallis Oregon
Peter L Roolf
2022 Online Shae Brown


Previous Anatol Rapoport Award Winners

This award was first given in 2011.

2011 Hull David Greenwood
2012 San Jose, USA Andreas Hieronymi
2013 Hai Phong, Viet Nam Novie Setianto
2014 Washington, DC No award
2015 Berlin, Germany Kwamina Ewur Banson
2016 Boulder, Colorado Aleksandar Malecic
2017 Vienna, Austria Anh B. Tong
2018 Corvallis Oregon No award
2019 Corvallis Oregon Jeff Scales


Previous Margaret Mead Award Winners

This award was first given in 2013.

2013 Hai Phong, Viet Nam Magda Kaspary
2014 Washington, DC Raghav Rajagopalan
2015 Berlin, Germany Eshantha Ariyadasa
2016 Boulder, Colorado Jackwin Simbolon
2017 Vienna, Austria Kendra Rosencrans
2018 Corvallis Oregon
Maria Alejandra Torres-Cuello
2019 Corvallis Oregon Marty Jacobs


Prospectus for students (in Spanish)

El Sir Geoffrey Vickers Memorial Award se estableció en memoria de la visión humanística de Sir Geoffrey Vickers y su profundo compromiso y convicción en el poder de la gente joven para contribuir creativamente al mejoramiento de la condición humana. De la misma manera, se estableció el Anatol Rapoport Memorial Award para reconocer trabajo sobresaliente hecho por gente joven en las áreas quantitativas y de modelación formal.  Y en 2013, se estableció el Margaret Mead Memorial Award para promover contribuciones de la gente joven en ambitos de investigaciones feministas, colectivistas, y de un carácter culturalmente pluralista.  Los tres premios consisten en una plaqueta y un cheque por U$D 500. cada uno — a ser otorgados a los mejores trabajos de un estudiante universitario, y son los premio más prestigiosos en esta área del conocimiento en el nivel pre-doctoral. Los trabajos ganadores son presentados en una sesión plenaria de la conferencia anual de la entidad.