Proceedings of the IFSR Conversation 2010, Pernegg, Austria
A good half a century ago, right after the end of the dreadful period from 1914 to 1945 comprising World War I, the World Economic crisis, and World War II, scientists such as Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Norbert Wiener and their colleagues found a response to the terrible events that killed tens of millions of people: holistic rather than fragmented thinking, decision-making and acting. They established two sciences to support humankind in the effort of meeting this end, which is a promising alternative to the worldwide and local crises. These sciences were Systems Theory and Cybernetics. System was and is the word entitled to represent the whole. One fights one-sidedness in order to survive. Nevertheless every human must be specialized in a fragment of the immense huge knowledge humankind possesses today. Thus, one-sidedness is unavoidable and beneficial, too. But networking of many one-sided insights can help all of us overcome the weak sides of a narrow specialization. Thus, we all need a narrow professional capacity and add to it systemic / holistic thinking.
From this combination most modern equipment resulted, most modern knowledge in all spheres of human activity, solutions to environmental problems, etc. Most of the remaining problems can be ascribed to a lack of this combination, and there are many around that can hardly be solved without systems thinking and creative co-operation of diverse specialists. Our responsibility for the future obliges us to try to improve the current situation and not to leave an excessive burden to future generation.
The Founding of the IFSR
Since a system, in its general abstract definition, is more than its parts as well more than the sum of its parts, it was decided to interlink groups of system thinkers around the world and to try to find answers to some of the pressing problems of the world.
On March 12, 1980 during the 5th EMCSR-Congress in Vienna the then three important societies in the area of systems research, the Österreichische Studiengesellschaft für Kybernetik, the Systemgroup Nederland, and the Society for General System Research founded the International Federation for Systems Research The key persons were: Robert Trappl, George J. Klir, Gerard de Zeeuw. They became the first officers of the IFSR.
Strong support came from the then The Austrian Ministry of Science and Research in the person of Norbert Rozsenich gave strong encouragement and provided financial support. F de. P. Hanika accepted the responsibility of Editor-in-Chief of the Newsletter of the IFSR.
Aims and Goals of the IFSR
The constitution of the Federation states:
The aims of the Federation are to stimulate all activities associated with the scientific study of systems and to co-ordinate such activities at the international level by:
- co-coordinating systems research activities of private persons and/or organizations;
- organizing international meetings, courses, workshops, and the like;
- promoting international publications in the area of systems research;
- promoting systems education;
- maintaining standards and competence in systems research and education; and
- any other means … [to] serve the aims of the members.
The first Board Meeting (June 1980) defined the Federation’s goals:
- Social Learning Goal: Strengthen the programs of member societies by their involvement in the program and network of IFSR.
- Membership Development Goal: Facilitate (encourage) the development of Systems science in countries in which such programs do not yet exist or are now developing.
- Synergetic Goal: Develop – implement – evaluate IFSR-level programs to meet the purposes of IFSR to advance systems science.
- Resource Development Goal: Identify an inventory of system science relevant resources, acquire those and make them accessible to member societies.
- Global Mission: Make contribution to the larger (global) scientific community, be of service to improve the (global) human condition, and enrich the quality of life of all.
Member societies of the IFSR
The IFSR has shown a healthy growth with respect to the number of members. Currently it has 36 member societies, representing scientists from 26 countries on most continents [in brackets the membership number].
ASC: American Society for Cybernetics 
GESI: Asociacion Argentina de Teoria General de Sistemas y Cibernetica 
ALAS: Asociacion Latinoamericana de Sistemas 
AMCS: Asociacion Mexicana de la Ciencia de Sistemas 
Asociacion Mexicana de Sistemas y Cibernetica 
AFSCET: Association Francaise des Sciences et Technologies de l’information et des Systemes 
ANZSYS: Australian and New Zealand Systems Group 
BCSSS: Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science 
BSSR: Bulgarian Society for Systems Reseach 
CHAOS: Centre for Hyperincursion and Anticipation in Ordered Systems 
HID: Croatian Interdisciplinary Society 
GfK: Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Kybernetik 
GWS: Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialkybernetik 
GIFT: Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management 
Greek Systems Society 
Heinz von Förster Gesellschaft 
HSSS: Ελληνική Εταρεία Συστημικών Μελετών (Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies9 
IAS: Instituto Andino de Sistemas 
IIGG: International Institute Galileo Galilei 
IIIS: International Institute of Informatics and Systemics: IIIS 
ISSS: International Society for the Systems Sciences 
ISKSS: International Society of Knowledge and Systems Science 
KSSSR: The Korean Society for Systems Science Research 
RC51: International Sociological Association , ISA-RC51 on Sociocybernetics 
ISI: International Systems Institute 
JASESS: Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies 
MSSI: Management Science Society of Ireland 
OSGK: Oesterreichische Studiengesellschaft für Kybernetik 
Pentagram Research Centre Private Limited 
Polish Systems Society 
SDSR: Slovenian Society for Systems Research 
SESGE: Sociedad Espanola de Sistemas Generales 
SGN: Systeemgroep Nederland 
SESC: Systems Engineering Society of China 
The Cybernetics Society 
The Learned Society of Praxiology 
The most recent list can be found on http://ifsr.ocg.at/world/node/3.
Officers of the IFSR
The current officers of the IFSR are:
|Dr. Gary S. Metcalf||InterConnectionsLLCfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Prof. Dr. Kyoichi Jim Kijima||Tokyo Institute of Technologyemail@example.com|
|Dr. Amanda J. Gregory||Hull University Business School||A.J.Gregory@hull.ac.uk|
|Dr. Leonie Solomons||Consulting Systems Pty Ltdfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|rof. Dr. Gerhard Chroust||P J. Kepler University Linz||Gerhard.email@example.com|
Many prominent system scientists have been officers of the IFSR since 1980
|1980||George J. Klir||Robert Trappl||Gerard de Zeeuw|
|1984||Robert Trappl||Bela H. Banathy||Gerard de Zeeuw|
|1988||Gerrit Broekstra||Franz Pichler||Bela Banathy|
|1992||Gerard de Zeeuw||J.D.R. De Raadt||Gerhard Chroust|
|1994||Bela H. Banathy||Michael C. Jackson||Gerhard Chroust|
|1998||Michael C. Jackson||Yong Pil Rhee||Gerhard Chroust|
|2000||Yong Pil Rhee||Michael C. Jackson||Gerhard Chroust|
|2002||Jifa Gu||Matjaz Mulej, Gary S. Metcalf||Gerhard Chroust|
|2006||Matjaz Mulej||Jifa Gu, Gary S. Metcalf||Gerhard Chroust|
|2008||Matjaz Mulej||Yoshiteru Nakamori, Gary S. Metcalf||Gerhard Chroust|
|2010||Gary S. Metcalf||Kyoichi Jim Kijima, Amanda Gregory, Leonie Solomons||Gerhard Chroust|
The IFSR pursues successfully numerous activities:
- Systems Research and Behavioural Science (ISSN 1092-7026), the official scientific journal of the IFSR, edited by Michael C. Jackson, published since 1984
- International Series on Systems Science and Engineering, IFSR’s book series, established in 1985, edited by George J. Klir, now published by Springer, New York
- the yearly IFSR Newsletter, the informal newsletter of the IFSR (paper : ISSN 1818-0809, online: ISSN 1818-0817), published since 1981, edited by Paul F de. P. Hanika (1981-1985), Robert Trappl (1985), Steven Sokoloff (1986 – 1994), and Gerhard Chroust (since 1993).
- The IFSR web-site (http://www.ifsr.org) informing the world about the Federation’s activities
- the IFSR Fuschl-conversations, taking place every other year since 1982 in Fuschl near Salzburg, Austria, discussing issues of social learning
- Support for other events (e.g. the EMCSR-conference in Vienna every second year)
- Sponsoring a bi-annual Ashby-lecture at the European Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research (EMCSR)
More than ever Systems Sciences are seen as a basis for balancing the divergent needs and interests between individuals and society worldwide, between ecology and economy, between nations of various levels of development and between differing worldviews. The IFSR commits itself to increase its contributions answering the needs as expressed in its original aims and goals. Some new activities, in line with the needs and the challenges, have already been started:
- The International Academy of Systems and Cybernetics (with Matjaz Mulej as president) provides a forum for persons professionally excelling in research and teaching of Systems Sciences and Cybernetics.
- The Bertalanffy Library: In cooperation with the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (led by W. Hofkirchner) the IFSR will both help to preserve, revive and disseminate systems concepts and knowledge in general and L. v. Bertalanffy’s ideas and work on General Systems Theory in particular.
- The International Encyclopaedia of Systems and Cybernetics based on Charles Francois’ seminal International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics. This work will be continued, supplemented electronically as an attempt clarify and reduce inconsistent terminology and semantics in the field.
- Supporting our member societies in organizing conferences and workshops.