Appendix: What is the IFSR? IFSR Conversations 2012

Proceedings of the IFSR Conversation 2012, St. Magdalena, Linz, Austria
Appendix: What is the IFSR?
The Founding of the IFSR
Global conflicts like World War I and World War II, the related economic and social crises, social unrest, global interaction of powers, and the fragmentation of science made far –thinking scientists aware that a new paradigm for analyzing, understanding and hopefully ameliorating world problems. Scientists such as Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Norbert Wiener, and their colleagues found a response to these problems: holistic rather than fragmented, linear thinking, decision-making, and acting. They established two sciences to support humankind in the effort of meeting this end as a promising alternative to local and worldwide crises. These sciences were Systems Theory and Cybernetics. System was and is the word characterizing this new paradigm: Considering the whole and avoiding one-sidedness in order to survive.
From this combination most modern approaches, most modern knowledge in all spheres of human activity, solutions to environmental problems, etc., most of the existing problems can be ascribed to a lack of systemic thinking 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.
In the early 50’s of the past century few scientists and societies were explicitly working in the field of Systems Sciences and Cybernetics. It was decided to interlink these societies and all groups of system thinkers around the world in order 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 (see IFSR Newsletter vol. 24, no. 1 (nov. 2006), []).
Strong support came from the then Austrian Ministry of Science and Research in the person of Norbert Rozsenich who 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; 16th IFSR Conversation 2012 109
  • 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 in 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.

Officers of the IFSR
The current officers (2012 -2014) of the IFSR are:

Officers of the IFSR 2012-2014: Gary Metcalf, Gerhard Chroust, Yoshihide Horiuchi, Stefan Blanchfellner. IFSR Conversations 2012

Officers of the IFSR 2012-2014: Gary Metcalf, Gerhard Chroust, Yoshihide Horiuchi, Stefan Blanchfellner. IFSR Conversations 2012

President Dr. Gary S. Metcalf InterConnectionsLLC, USA
Vice President Prof. Dr. Yoshihide Horiuchi Shibaura Institute of Technology Tokyo, Japan
Vice President Mag. Stefan Blachfellner Stefan Blachfellner Consulting, Austria
Secretary General Prof. Dr. Gerhard Chroust J. Kepler University Linz, Austria

IFSR Activities
The IFSR pursues successfully numerous activities:

  • The International Academy of Systems and Cybernetics, founded in 2010 by the IFSR, with Robert Trappl as its current president provides a forum for persons professionally excelling in research and teaching of Systems Sciences and Cybernetics (
  • 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 (hard copy: ISSN 1818-0809, online: ISSN 1818-0817), published once or twice a year since 1981, edited by Paul F de. P. Hanika (1981-1985), Robert Trappl (1985), Steven Sokoloff (1986 – 1994), and Gerhard Chroust (since 1993), see
  • The IFSR web-site ( informing the world about the Federation’s activities
  • The IFSR Conversations, taking place every other year since 1982 (initially held in Fuschl near Salzburg, Austria) convene 30 systems scientist from around the world to discuss systemic issues relevant for the mankind, society and the environment,
  • 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)

Future Plans
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 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 to clarify and reduce 16th IFSR Conversation 2012 111 inconsistent terminology and semantics in the field.
  • Systems. connecting matter, life, culture and technology: In cooperation with the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science the IFSR supports the establishment of an international peer reviewed open access journal as a vital node to foster the sytems movement, accessible for free to all members and everyone interested in systems research. Many member organizations are involved in this project as associate editors, for more details visit http://www.systemsjournal. eu/about/editorialTeam (work in progress)
  • Supporting our member societies in organizing conferences and workshops.
  • Fostering the outreach of the IFSR and our member organizations with the relaunch of our website, a new digital newsletter and several social media activties.
  • Fostering the decision processes of our members and jointly working for the establishment and maintenance of a collaborative e-democracy tool to meet the Social Learning and Synergetic Goal.
  • Developing new services for our members to meet the Resource Development Goal, to identify an inventory of system science relevant resources, acquire those and make them accessible to member societies.
  • Developing an enhanced business model aligned to the IFSR services.
  • Promote the IFSR as the global umbrella organization of the systems movement and attract new members to the Federation to meet the Membership Development Goal.
  • Develop and support the global dissemination of the systems conversations to curate the conditions that will support the Global Mission of the IFSR.

Past Officers of the IFSR
Many prominent system scientists have been officers of the IFSR since 1980

starting President Vice-President(s) Secretary/Treasurer
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 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
2012 Gary S. Metcalf Yoshihide Horiuchi, Stefan Blachfellner Gerhard Chroust

Member societies of the IFSR
The IFSR has shown a healthy growth with respect to the number of members. Currently it has 39 member societies, representing scientists from 24 countries on most continents [in brackets the membership number]. For the most recent list see:
ASC: American Society for Cybernetics [no. 7]
GESI: Asociacion Argentina de Teoria General de Sistemas y Cibernetica [no. 5]
ALAS: Asociacion Latinoamericana de Sistemas [no. 38]
AMCS: Asociacion Mexicana de la Ciencia de Sistemas [no. 37]
Asociacion Mexicana de Sistemas y Cibernetica [no. 19]
AFSCET: Association Francaise des Sciences et Technologies de l’information et des Systemes [no. 11]
ANZSYS: Australian and New Zealand Systems Group [no. 33]
BCSSS: Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science [no. 41]
BSSR: Bulgarian Society for Systems Reseach [no. 30]
BS-LAB: Business Systems Laboratory [no. 48]
CHAOS: Centre for Hyperincursion and Anticipation in Ordered Systems [no. 28]
HID: Croatian Interdisciplinary Society [no. 44]
GfK: Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Kybernetik [no. 34]
GWS: Gesellschaft für Wirtschafts- und Sozialkybernetik [no. 12]
GIFT: Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management [no. 32]
Greek Systems Society [no. 14]
Heinz von Förster Gesellschaft [no. 42]
HSSS: Ελληνική Εταρεία Συστημικών Μελετών (Hellenic Society f. Systemic Studies) [no. 36]
IAS: Instituto Andino de Sistemas [no. 26]
IIGG: International Institute Galileo Galilei [no. 45]
IIIS: International Institute of Informatics and Systemics: IIIS [no. 39]
INCOSE: International Council on Systems Engineering [no. 46]
ISSS: International Society for the Systems Sciences [no. 3]
ISKSS: International Society of Knowledge and Systems Science [no. 35]
RC51: International Sociological Association , ISA-RC51 on Sociocybernetics [no. 40]
ISI: International Systems Institute [no. 4]
JASESS: Japan Association for Social and Economic Systems Studies [no. 31]
MSSI: Management Science Society of Ireland [no. 29]
META PHORUM: Metaphorum Group [no. 47]
OSGK: Oesterreichische Studiengesellschaft für Kybernetik [no. 1]
Pentagram Research Centre Private Limited [no. 43]
PSS: Polish Systems Society [no. 23]
SDSR: Slovenian Society for Systems Research [no. 25]
SESGE: Sociedad Espanola de Sistemas Generales [no. 13]
SGN: Systeemgroep Nederland [no. 2]
SESC: Systems Engineering Society of China [no. 21]
The Cybernetics Society [no. 9]
KSSSR: The Korean Society for Systems Science Research [no. 22]
The Learned Society of Praxiology [no. 16]
The aim of the Sixteenth IFSR Conversation in 2012, held in St. Magdalena, Linz, Austria in April 2012, was to continue the tradition of Conversation that had been established in 1980, stressing face-to-face discussions on the chose topics. The overarching theme for the conversation was how to reposition systems thinking in a changing world both with respect to scientific research and practical applications, in view of historical roots and the precarious situation of our environment.
The deliberations of the 4 teams supported the over-all theme in different ways:

  • Revisiting the socio-ecological, social-technical and socio-psychological perspectives
  • Science II – Science Too!
  • Designing Learning Systems for Global Sustainability
  • Towards a common language for systems praxis.

The Conversation was able to build on previous and ongoing work within the member organizations of the IFSR. The outcome of this Conversation, while at a high conceptual level, also supports and encourages further practical applications through individual member activities.
The Conversations essentially followed the successful scheme used in earlier Fuschl Conversations as devised by Bela H. Banathy in 1981. 30 renowned systems scientists and systems practitioners from 9 countries took part in this 5-day cooperative effort. The outcome of the conversation is summarized in 4 team reports plus several contributed papers. A short description of the IFSR’s activities completes the proceedings.