Friday, March 01, 2013

ISSS 2013 in Vietnam

ISSS 2013: Hai Phong City, Viet Nam, July 14-19, 2013

CALL FOR PAPERS for The 57th World Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Curating the Conditions for a Thrivable Planet: Systemic Leverage Points for Emerging a Global Eco-Civilization

We warmly invite you to join us in a unique experience that will contribute significantly to making systems thinking more mainstream around the world. The 57th Annual ISSS World Conference will provide you with an opportunity to showcase advances in systemic sustainability initiatives from around the world with hands-on experience in the UNESCO Cat Ba Biosphere Reserve and at Hai Phong City, the first city in the world to be managed using an integral systems approach.

NEW:  Information for travel and visa applications, Tourist information, Accommodation and Registration fees have all been added to the conference web pages.

Abstracts are requested for the 57th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Important Dates

    April 30, 2013: The end of early, discounted registration.

    May 30, 2013: The deadline for full papers. Only ONE submission per
registered participant will be accepted for the conference.

    June 1, 2013. The final deadline for abstracts, recognising that
abstracts may not be developed into full papers for this conference. Only
ONE abstract per registered participant will be accepted for the conference.

    June 1, 2013. The deadline for poster abstract submission. Posters are
exempt from the one abstract/paper submission rule.

Call for Papers

Please see for preparing abstracts and full papers for the conference

Special integration groups (SIGs) and exploratory sessions are being planned
in the following areas (see the website for contact details for each group):

Agent-based Social Systems
Arts-based Inquiry
Balancing Individualism and Collectivism
Critical Systems Theory & Practice
Designing Educational Systems
Economic and Financial Systems
Evolutionary Development
Foundations of Information Systems
Hierarchy Theory
Human Systems Inquiry
Information Systems Design and Information Technology
ISSS Roundtable
Living Systems Analysis
Health and Systems Thinking
Organizational Transformation and Social Change
Relational Science
Research Towards General Theories of Systems
Service Systems Science
Socio-Ecological Systems
Spirituality and Systems
Student SIG
Systemic Approaches to Conflict and Crises
Systemic Approaches to Poverty and Disadvantage
Systems Applications in Business & Industry
Systems Biology and Evolution
Systems and Mental Health
Systems Modeling and Simulation
Systems Pathology

Social Programs

There will be a welcome reception on Sunday evening, July 14. The conference
banquet will be held on Thursday, July 18.

Registration Rates

Registration fees are available on the website and registration is OPEN!.

The registration fee includes:

* Conference attendance at all sessions
* The program/abstract book

  • Reception on Sunday July 14
  • Banquet on Thursday July 18
* ISSS membership fees for 2014
The registration fees also includes tea/coffee breaks and lunches from
Monday to Thursday.

The registration fee does not cover accommodation or transportation expenses
to and from the conference site.

Accommodation is available in a range of local hotels.

For further details please check the website at or

OU STiP Presence at the Public Sector Show

The Open University's STiP (Systems Thinking in Practice) postgraduate program will have a stand at this year's Public Sector Show on the 30th April.  The event will be held at the Business Design Centre in London.  If you have an interest in using systems thinking in practice in the public sector why not come and visit our stand - or let others know that we will be there.

For those in any doubt of the need for STiP read some of these excellent articles by Simon Caulkin.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

'Inequality for All'

Some years ago when in California colleagues spoke highly about Robert Reich academic, former Secretary for Labour and activist.  They described him as someone who thought systemically about complex issues.  Now he and his economic arguments have been the focus of a new documentary made by Jacob Kornbluth called ' Inequality for All'.  Take a look at this clip and see what you think.   Do his arguments apply elsewhere or are they only relevant to the US?   I am not yet sure of my own answers to these questions as I am yet to see the movie. I will keep you posted.

However Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer (UK) has reached her own conclusions which seem very persuasive to me:

"The powerful documentary Inequality for All was an unexpected hit at the recent Sundance film festival, arguing that US capitalism has fatally abandoned the middle classes while making the super-rich richer. Can its star, economist Robert Reich, do for economics what Al Gore did for the environment?"

This article is well worth a read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sr Lanka needs to be held to account

The case for Australia and other governments bringing pressure to bear on Sri Lanka in manifest ways, including sports boycotts, is made abundantly clear in this article. 


Melbourne, Tuesday --The UN Human Rights High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, says Sri Lanka has broken its promise to improve human rights in the island nation. Pillay said the Rajapaksa regime had failed to investigate atrocities, as it promised the UN a year ago, and that opposition leaders were still being killed or abducted.

In an interview with the Sri Lankan Sunday Times, Pillay said: “The Government has made little progress in pursuing true accountability and reconciliation measures... “...There is a long history of national inquiries in Sri Lanka that have led nowhere but to impunity.... There has to be justice, if there is to be lasting peace.”

Pillay has also issued a stern warning to the Sri Lankan Government not to repeat last year’s intimidation and threats against human rights defenders at next week’s UN Human Rights Council meeting to examine Sri Lanka’s progress on human rights and post-war reconciliation with Tamils.

The BBC reported last March that the Minister for Public Relations, Mervyn Silva, threatened to “break the limbs” of certain journalists and human rights workers whom he called “traitors.” His comments came a day after the UNHRC passed a resolution that contained criticism of the country’s human rights record, as well as a call to initiate an independent investigation into allegations against the Sri Lankan military of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the final days of the civil war in 2009.

Pillay said the Sri Lankan Government had been reprimanded by the UNHRC president for its behaviour at the 2012 session. She said she had written to the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister to protest that some of the threats against various groups were carried on his own website.

Next Monday the UN Human Rights Council will begin debating the second US resolution on Sri Lanka in 12 months. It is expected to call on Sri Lanka to honour its promise to the UN last year to initiate the independent war crimes investigation and to:

• Credibly investigate widespread allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.
• Demilitarize the north of Sri Lanka and re-evaluate detention policies.
• Implement impartial land dispute resolution mechanisms.
• Protect the right of freedom of expression for all and enact rule of law reforms.

Campaign for Tamil Justice spokesperson, Trevor Grant, said the first US resolution, which was supported by Australia, the UK, Canada and India, among others, was so weak that it encouraged Sri Lanka to continue its program of ethnic-cleansing against the Tamils. “It was the equivalent of a wink and nod to Sri Lanka to carry on persecuting Tamils. A draft of the second one looks about the same,” Grant said. “Until the UN faces the reality on the ground in Sri Lanka, that a genocide is taking place and it needs to act strongly, then nothing much will change.”

The International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch have recently issued scathing reports on the Sri Lankan Government’s abuse of human rights. They have called on the countries meeting at the UNHRC next week to implement much stronger action this time.

A letter signed by 133 Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist pastors and nuns in Sri Lanka has asked the UNHRC to set up an independent war crimes’ investigation, claiming the Government does not have the political will to do it. At least 40,000 Tamil civilians died after being herded into supposed “safe zones” in May, 2009. A 2011 UN report said there were credible allegations that these people were then shelled and bombed by the Sri Lankan military. The report said that there was evidence that the Tamil Tigers may have committed war crimes.

Pillay explained why she believed it was important for the independent investigation to go ahead.
“Because tens of thousands of civilians were reportedly killed. Because there are very credible allegations and some strong pictorial evidence and witness accounts indicating that war crimes and other serious international crimes...took place on a large scale,” she said. 

“There is a long history of national inquiries in Sri Lanka that have led nowhere but to impunity. This makes such an international investigation essential. Crimes like these cannot simply be ignored or pushed aside. There has to be justice, if there is to be lasting peace.”

In a speech to the London School of Economics recently, Pillay drew the comparison between UN reports on Sri Lanka and Rwanda, where a Government-orchestrated genocide against the minority Tutsu population in 1994 saw almost one million people die while the international community did virtually nothing. The Petrie report on Sri Lanka was an admission that the UN had made a grave error by leaving the war zones towards the end of the war in 2009. It was a decision that cost the lives of thousands of innocent Tamils as the Sri Lankan military ruthlessly attacked civilians in what became known as the “war without witness.” “Rwanda’s lessons were not implemented in Sri Lanka,” Pillay said.

Campaign for Tamil Justice calls upon the UNHRC to:

• Immediately take the strongest action required to stop the persecution and the ethnic-cleansing of Tamils in Sri Lanka by the Government. This includes Government-sponsored land theft, destruction of Tamil homes and transplanting of Sinhalese citizens into traditional Tamil regions, demolition of cultural icons such as Tamil shrines, and the massive military presence used to control of the daily lives of Tamils in the northern and eastern regions.

• Initiate immediately an independent international investigation into allegations by a UN panel of Sri Lankan military war crimes and crimes against humanity towards the end of the war.

• Stop the murder, torture, jailings, beatings and disappearances of Tamils and fully support the prosecution of those responsible.

• Demand an end to the murders and disappearances of Sri Lankan journalists. Demand full investigation and prosecution of those responsible for these crimes.

• Demand a sustainable solution to Tamil grievances. This includes giving Tamils political autonomy and empowering them by allowing self-determination in traditional Tamil regions.

For further information contact Campaign for Tamil Justice"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Conference with a difference

Conference registration and hotel reservations for Modes of Explanation May 21-25 in Paris are now open.  Updated information at

To register please visit:

For more conference information please visit:

Modes of Explanation
Three days to discuss and learn about advances in modes of explanation. A look at how our mode of explanation affects our affordances for action.

Modes of Explanation is a discussion conference, the actual presentations of attendee's work will occur on-line and only a five minute or less synopsis will precede the discussion session during which the work is discussed.

The challenge to prospective attendees is to prepare a presentation which can evoke meaningful discussion amongst the attendees. One's presentation could, for example, focus on: 1) how we go about explaining and the limitations/strengths of our approach, 2) what kinds of explanations "work" and which kinds "fail" 3) the context dependency of explanatory  form 4) the differences in use between "good enough explanation" and "truth claims" 5) the need for/use of mechanisms and "narratives" as a meaning of "explaining" (making understandable  in a coherent way) some aspect of complexity or of a real in life complex system 6) how a reliance on sameness or of category as a simplifying reduction was inadequate to the situation being examined or 7) how modes of explanation vary by discipline.

Keynotes: Paul Thagard, Nancy Nersessian, David Snowden, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Sandra Mitchell, Kevin Kelly, Hugo Letiche, Timothy Allen, Zack Kopplin & more
Michael Lissack
Executive Director and ISCE Professor of Meaning in Organizations

Please consider attending the Modes of Explanation conference in Paris May 21-25, 2013.  I am sorry not to be going but will be at a conference in Bonn 'Water and the Anthropocene' which runs at the same time.  We have two papers scheduled to be presented at the Bonn Conference.