Report on the Fuschl Conversation 1998

IFSR Newsletter 1998 Vol 17 No. 2 June
What is Fuschl?
First of all Fuschl is a charming, romantic little village on a little lake in lovely Salzkammergut, near Salzburg, Austria, surrounded by mountains.
What has made the term Fuschl worldwide known, are the Fuschl Conversations. What is a conversation?
Conversation is:

  • A collectively guided disciplined inquiry
  • An exploration of issues of social/societal significance
  • Engaged by scholarly practitioners in self – organized teams
  • who select a theme for their conversation
  • which is Initiated in the course of a preparation phase that leads to an intensive
    learning phase

In the late seventies, a group of us in the international systems science community
became increasingly disillusioned with the practice of traditionals scientific meetings where papers are presented (often read) but rarely discussedin depth. But occasionally, creative conversations happened away from scheduled sessions. Whenever we had those rare
occasions, we always had a high level of learning and satisfation. So we decided „to make
the rare the norm“ in our meetings. We created an opportunity for teh „rare“ when we organized a oneweek conversation in 1982 at Fuschl Lake in Austria. Arranged into the groups, we asked the question. How can we use the insights gained from systems science for the improvement of the human condition? By the end of the week our conversation groups came up with some 80 action items, which we clustered and designated as an agenda for our international coversation program. By now we have had over 21 conversations in seven different countries. For quite a while, these conversations were the strategic dialogue type. During the last few years, however, we became aware of how an up-fron, generative type of dialogue could enhance the potential of our conversations. In fact, in the course of the last three conversations some of our groups focused on the design of such generative and strategic conversations.

  • the conversation Conduct as an ongoing sustained process, governed by jointly
    established rules

  • Agree on who will participate
  • Agree on and clearly define – the topic and the triggering questions
  • Decide jointly the method used
  • Ensure equity in participation and accept all contributions without criticism
  • Aim at defining a common ground and attaining consensus
  • Prepare well for the conversation, ground it in rich knowledge base that participants
    bring to the event, and have knowledge resources at hand

  • Report findings and continue the conversation by networking, by mail and
    electronic communication

  • Define and apply the findings of our work:
    • (A) Individually in our back-home community and
    • B) collectively in joint projects of developing learning resources, research
      reports and publications.
  • Always share findings and outcomes with community

Gordon C. Dyers Closing Words
“You may ask – as we have asked ourselves – what can a small group like ours do?
We do not – 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 of a better world for all.”

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