IFSR Newsletter 1983 Vol. 3 No. 2 Autumn
A Summary Report by Bela H. Banathy, Global Learning Symposium – Fuschl (Austria) 1982
THE FIRST FUSCHL SYMPOSIUM
In April 1982 a group of systems scholars gathered in a small hotel in an idyllic setting on the shores of the Fuschl Lake, near Salzburg, Austria. They came from three continents, representing nine countries and ten cultures, and they are leaders of systems science professional societies whose memberships stretch around the globe.
The group spent four days discussing the potential contribution that the systems movement may make in order to:
• develop and bring into focus a systemic view of global issues, and
• promote education in systems thinking as a way to enhance the capturing of global perspectives and attaining global awareness and consciousness by all.
The group mapped out a preliminary agenda for an action plan that will guide the research and program agendas of the various systems science groups and societies, and the systems science community in general.
At the end of the meeting a commitment was made by all participants to continue to devote themselves, for the next five years, to the twofold purpose described above, to continue to have annual meetings and to keep on working on individual and group agendas year round.
II. A Plan For Action
In the course of the symposium, participants – working in two intensive groups – developed eighty items representing contributions that systems science may make to address global issue and to develop and promote systems-thinking-based education for global awareness. A synthesis of the eighty items led to the formation of an agenda for the future which is presented below in two parts: preamble and agenda.
The agenda below addressed the task of education for global awareness and fostering of a systemic approach to the solution of global problems, whereby:
• individuals and institutions are encouraged to recognize their inescapable involvements in, and responsible for global concerns; world problems and their histories are mapped and their effects reviewed
• systemic views of global issues are created; and
• flexible and self-regulation strategies for improving human conditions are developed and implemented.
Agenda for Research, Development, and Interaction
• AWARENESS. To encourage individuals to deepen their understanding of global problems and their potential contributions to solutions of such problems.
• RESPONSIBILITY. To make clear the ethical responsibilities and professional obligations of systems scientists to promote awareness of and search for solutions to global problems.
• COOPERATION. To develop a climate of cooperation in which links can grow between individuals, professional societies, institutions, cultures and nations for the dissemination of information on global problem situations and options for addressing those situations.
• CREATIVE LEARNING. To examine the role of formal and non-formal educational systems in building new arrangements for learning systems thinking in the context of global issues.
• FRAMES OF REASONING. To further develop systems perspectives, frames of reasoning and improved methods for the characterization of the dynamics of global problems.
• CONSTRAINED SOLUTIONS. To identify specific strategies that widen perspectives, generate shared understanding, and promote feasible solutions to global problems respecting cultural differences, human potential and freedom, man’s symbiosis with nature and enhancing the quality of life for all.
• DECISION MAKING. To encourage decision-makers to recognize the complexity and self-regulating properties of real-world systems, so that solutions to global problems can be implemented at a local level without inducing uncontrolled instabilities and side effects.
• SOCIAL-ACTION. To encourage informed and enlightened social-action in addressing global problems at all levels.
We intend to implement the purpose and the agenda described above as follows:
• to focus our own work – be it research, development, teaching or technical assistance – on addressing global concerns and commit ourselves toward the improvement of the human condition everywhere and the enrichment of quality of life for all;
• to influence and encourage our colleagues in the systems science community, particularly those we share work assignments with, to be guided by the same commitments;
• to promote in the systems science societies*, institutions, and groups the consideration and adoption of the agenda described above and the development of programs of research and agendas for conferences that address global issues as a system of interdependent issues;
• to assist and advise in the development and implementation of systems-thinking-based education at all levels of education as an essential part of education in global awareness.
• to encourage transnational cooperation and coordination among systems science societies that address global issues and concepts by bringing into their deliberations a systemic orientation, and the organizing perspectives of systems philosophy, theory, methodology.
• to establish arrangements for the coordination, continuing planning, organization, and support of a five year program.
Since the syposium, the following has been accomplished:
• the coordinating center of the program has been established at the International Institute for Systems Studies and Systems Education at the Far West Laboratory in San Francisco, California**.
• several chapters of the symposium proceedings have developed and were circulated among members of the group.
• a “mini-conference” was scheduled in London, September 1982, for the final editing of the proceedings and the planning for the next event in Detroit, May 1983, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society for General Systems Research.
• plans are now in formulation for the next full-gauged symposium scheduled for September 1983.
• essential financial support has been proposed to several sources for the development and expansion of the program.
A CLOSING THOUGHT
You may ask – as we have asked ourselves – what can a small group like ours do? We do not have – and never will have – the illusion of “grandeur.” We know very well that our voice is a small voice, but it will be persistent and spoken in many languages as the years go by. We are guided by an evolutionary vision of the global unity of mankind and the full development of human potential everywhere and we dedicate ourselves to work on the agenda we developed in the course of our meeting. We are inspired by a shared dream for a better world for all When our children and grandchildren ask us – as they do -, “What kind of a world shall we inherit from you?”, at least we can tell them that we will do everything within our power to leave them a more livable and peaceful world with more humanness and love in it and more opportunities for the realization of their potential and for the enrichment of their inner quality of life.
* For example, the topic of the 1983 annual meeting of the Society
for General Systems Research is International Conference
on World Problems and Systems Learning.
** The Institute already developed its own research and development
agenda in line with the Fuschl agenda; it assists
schools in developing international/global education programs and is involved in publishing a compendium on Education In Systems Thinking.
IFSR Newsletter 1983 Vol. 3 No. 2 Autumn