IFSR Newsletter 2001 Vol. 20 No. 1 September
Sunday, April 7 to Friday, April 12, 2002
at Hotel Seewinkel,
Fuschl am See, Austria
The Fuschl 2002 Conversations will – to a large extent – be the continuation of the Conversations held in 1996 through 2000 and will comprise the following five teams, each led by a Team Coordinator .
Team 1: New Agoras for the 21st Century:
Conscious Self-Guided Evolution
Coordinator: Patrick M Jenlink, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Agoras of the City States of the Classical Greeks were public spheres where true democracy was lived by citizens who made collective decisions about issues affecting their daily lives. Reconsidering the idea Agora in society today, and creating an ideal of the New Agora is a metaphor for social action contexts (public spheres or arenas) in which people can make collective decisions about their future. These contexts would be forums of democratic discourse. People in the settings of their families, neighbourhoods, community groups, organizations, and institutions have the potential to organize themselves as evolutionary design communities. These New Agoras could link up with each other and engage in evolutionary conversation in order to bring to life the Guided Evolution of the Society. The dual purposes of the New Agora project are to first create and sustain an Agora community of stewards who will then support the right of people to take part directly in the decisions that affect their lives and to guide their own destiny. The New Agora would guide the conscious evolution of civil society on local, national, and world levels. This goal will be achieved by creating knowledge bases for evolutionary inquiry; developing resources for evolutionary learning; and exploring approaches, methods, and technologies toward the establishment of New Agoras. These purposes are grounded in the belief that the right of people to take part directly in making decisions that affect their lives and to guide their own destiny is a fundamental human right.
What are the major problems confronting our species within the context of our global society?
What is the role of the New Agora project in addressing societies problems?
What would be the design of a “New Agora” that would serve as an evolutionary guidance system for world peace?
How could the “New Agoras” contribute to the conscious evolution of the human species?
In what ways can the “New Agora” serve humanity through creating and sustaining civil society?
Team 2: Designing Systems for Human Betterment
Coordinator: Arne Collen, email@example.com
We continue the 1998-2000 focus on the relevance and applications of systems thinking to the design of human activity systems for human betterment. We emphasis the nature of social oriented human activity systems that reveal to us what ways we relate to one another, how we come to know our world, who we are becoming, and who we become through proactive participation in systems creation. We are especially interested in such systems as learning and learner centered education (caring) systems, systems that foster human development, personal and collective guidance systems, and synergistic win-win seeking systems in continuous negotiation co-evolving with its tenuous risky environment. Our interests shall be informed by what we have learned about human beings and can learn constructively from each other during our conversation. We believe that knowledge of the ways we think, feel, perceive, and inter-relate help us as systemic designers to create and develop our systems for human betterment. We expect such systems to take into consideration our human welfare as well as the welfare of those affected indirectly by our activities. Whether we like it or not, human beings are the entrusted stewards of all life on the planet.
Therefore, our concern for the design of systems of human betterment must include the ecological, ethical, humane, and participatory dimensions broadly conceived. To facilitate our forthcoming conversation, we welcome explicit examples of systems designed for human betterment. Those participating are asked to bring if possible a specific case to contribute to our conversation. Earlier conversations are platforms to launch into specific cases. Our 1998 and 2000 conversation reports available by request. Newcomers welcome.
Triggering questions: What case exemplifies the design of a system for human betterment? Trigger question to be applied to each case: What can we learn by way of best practices that we find in this case?
Team 3: Foundations of Information Science
Coordinator: Bela H. Banathy, firstname.lastname@example.org
Participation is being invited for a Conversation on the Foundations of Information Science (FIS). This Conversation will be a continuation of a line of work that began in 1994 with the first FIS conference in Madrid (Spain), and was extended through a series of related meetings. Prospective participants are encouraged to review the abstracts and papers of FIS 94, FIS 96, the subsequent FIS virtual conferences, the FIS sessions conducted at the ISSS Annual Meetings in 1999, 2000, and 2001 (summarized on the FIS website at http://fis.iguw.tuwien.ac.at ), as well as the 2000 Fuschl Conversation on FIS.
Participants are expected to prepare short input papers that will help to establish a common ground for the subsequent conversations. Papers that extend any of the previous work are welcome. Work focusing on the relationship between the epistemological and ontological aspects of information are of great interest, and participants are particularly encouraged to address issues related to the ontogeny of information.
Triggering Questions: Intuitive starting points for this Conversation may be: “Where does “information” come from? Assuming that suitable answers to such questions can be formulated the next question is: What are the implications of this for the interaction between human beings, their artefacts in general and computers in particular, and the ecosystem of this planet as a whole? How do alternative conceptions of what information is, or where it comes from, influence our approach to the design of Human Activity Systems?
Team 4: Social Awareness
Coordinator: Gary Metcalf (email@example.com), Charles Francois (firstname.lastname@example.org))
The purpose of this conversation is to explore together the range of factors that seem to drive or influence human behaviour, especially at the collective level. While the events of Sept. 11 created a milestone in the history of the U.S., and for many people there seemed without precedent, they did not occur as some merely-random act of violence. Like most major human events, they were the culmination of many histories and the clashing of many human differences that collided in catastrophic events at a point in time.
The purpose of this conversation is not to attempt to resolve the events of Sept. 11 in the U.S., or any similar events in history. It is not to justify or condemn viewpoints or beliefs or approaches of one group of people over another. This conversation is to be a time to attempt some better understanding of the forces that shape the human landscape in which we live. Why is the “nature” of many social systems such that alternative views and beliefs (or even differences in general) are felt to threaten its existence? Why are the values that we say we hold most dear (truth, beauty, freedom, etc.) not the factors that most drive our behaviour, individually or collectively? And most importantly, are there ways in which we can consciously shape or affect the social systems in which we live, or are the “elements” and “forces” of which social systems are made too remote from human consciousness to be affected?
The conversation begins at the level of individual awareness, because until I have some sense about why I am as I am in the world, I cannot address the things that cause me to be that way.
Triggering Question: How can we become more consciously aware of the “forces” that drive our behaviour as humans, and how can we better learn to make choices about the world that we help to create?
Team 5: Actions and Evolutionary Guidance for Y3K
Coordinator: Gordon Dyer, G.C.Dyer@open.ac.uk
At the Fuschl Conversation 2000 a team discussed the Y3K issue i.e. what would we as systems designers wish to see for humankind for the Year 3000. By the end of the conversation we had obtained some insights towards six principles, which constitute an Evolutionary Guidance System (EGS), for the Year 3000, or similar long-term future. It identified some markers in terms of desirable behaviour patterns for the Year 3000. These desirable behaviours provide a basis for considering future education and human development programmes in future conversations. Our wish this time is to move toward something more practical linked to this theme. Hence the Y3K focus at Fuschl 2002 will be derived from the triggering questions.
How can the conceptual frameworks that we generated at Fuschl 2000 be shaped into meaningful actions?
What specific actions can we and others take over the next several years as first steps towards the types of ideals that were identified?
The work of the Teams is described on the previous pages.
IFSR Newsletter 2001 Vol. 20 No. 1 September