Edson, Mary. ‘What Is the IFSR Conversation?’ Official Newsletter of the International Federation for Systems Research, 2015.
When asked about the value the IFSR brings to the Systems Community, the answer can sound heavy. After all, the IFSR serves as the umbrella organization that connects many Systems Science related societies with one another as a central core. Its mission is to IFSR advance the Systems Sciences through research, education, and collaboration between the entities. That response sounds laden with administration. And yet, the IFSR sponsors biennial Conversations, which put these objectives into practice at collective and individual levels. So, exactly what is the IFSR Conversation?
Klein, Louis, Pamela Buckle, Nam Nguyen, Rika Preiser, and Ray Ison. ‘Growing a Community of Conversation and Understanding: The 2023 Agenda for the Systems Community’. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 39, no. 6 (2022): 1103–7. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.2919.
ABSTRACT: In his 1970 report to the Club of Rome, Hasan Özbekhan compiled an extensive collection of intersecting issues confronting humanity—the Global Problématique. Alas, half a century later, we find ourselves even further entrenched in this network of complex, systemic issues that some have framed the Anthropocene, a period new to human history. Collectively, we must take seriously the question: what purposeful action will aid human flourishing, create and sustain a viable space for humanity, in our ongoing co-evolution with the Anthropocene-Biosphere? Through ongoing reflections to this prompt, the theme of the IFSR’s 2023 agenda is community. At the heart of this community, we place emphasis on the role of conversation to enable the co-creation of a common (yet not necessarily shared) understanding. Collective efforts to grow and participate in this diverse cyber-systemic community of conversation and understanding will enhance the capacity to shift from stasis towards transformative actions demanded by the Global Problématique. In the Batesonian sense, the prospect of making a meta-difference that makes a difference is the emergent promise of our enterprise made collective.
KEYWORDS: agenda 2023, community of inquiry, Global Problématique, innovating institutions, metamorphic flow-field, process of inquiry
Dyer, Gordon, Jed Jones, Gordon Rowland, and Silvia Zweifel. ‘The Banathy Conversation Methodology’ 11 (2015).
ABSTRACT: context • Thirty years ago, members of the systems science community discovered that at their conferences, more was being accomplished in the breaks than in the sessions. Led by Bela H. Banathy, they cancelled the sessions and created a conversation methodology that has proven far more effective. Dozens of conversations have now been held around the world. > problem • At a recent conversation in Linz, Austria, a team devoted its inquiry to the Banathy Conversation Methodology (BCM) itself, asking, in particular, how to develop and spread the methodology further, beyond the systems science community.> Method• The team captured key features and benefits of BCM and developed new tools. > results • Described herein are the development of the methodology, its theoretical underpinnings, the methodology itself, heuristics for successful conversations, and an example of how the methodology is spreading. > implications • Ultimately, the hope is to develop the methodology in such ways that communities could apply it to meet significant challenges and co-create their futures.
KEYWORDS: Conversation, dialogue, guided evolution, social systems design.
COMMENTARIES ON DYER ET AL 2015 (ABOVE)
Metcalf, G. S. ‘A Constructivist Perspective on Banathy’s Conversation Methodology’. Constructivist Foundations 11, no. 1 (2015): 53–54.
ABSTRACT: This commentary will address the implicit and explicit connections between Banathy’s Conversation Methodology, which is the heart of the process used at the IFSR Conversations held every two years in Austria, and constructivist theories in application.
Laszlo, Kathia Castro. ‘Reflecting on the Impact of the Banathy Conversation Methodology in My Professional Practice’. Constructivist Foundations 11, no. 1 (2015): 51–53.
ABSTRACT: Banathy’s Conversation Methodology and the conversation events where it was developed and practiced had a profound effect on my role as a scholar-practitioner. In this commentary, I reflect on the impact of the BCM in my professional practice as an educator, facilitator, and consultant within the field of social innovation, where participatory processes for eliciting the wisdom of the group are essential.
Dyer, Gordon. ‘Repositing Thinking for Future Social Systems Design: In Tribute to Bela H. Banathy and His Inspiration of the Fuschl Conversations’. Systemic Practice and Action Research 17, no. 4 (August 2004): 307–21. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SPAA.0000040650.78017.ea.
ABSTRACT: Contemporary systems activity can be divided into that stressing feasible and practical short-term measures, and that which is more ideal-aware, focussed on mid-longer term futures, and typically involving on-going community or social systems design. The paper highlights the key differences in approach, but then invites closer collaboration in the cause of the possible contribution that systems thinking could make for a longer term future, with Y3K (Year 3000) as a metaphor for this. This analysis, which derives from work undertaken at Asilomar 1995 and Fuschl conversations in 2000 and 2002, finds that contemporary social system design, which is driven by western culture and is action-oriented, needs adaptation before it could contribute to greater future global harmony. A truly comprehensive systems design process must accommodate a wide range of possible parameters in terms of culture, and appreciation of time and progress. An emerging paradigm as basis for thinking and engaging in social systems design work of the future is offered, which also has relevance to general systems practice.
KEY WORDS: systems practice; contemporary social systems design; comprehensive social systems design; Y3K.
Nelson, Harold G. ‘Bela H. Banathy: The Legacy of a Design Conversation’. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 21, no. 3 (17 May 2004): 261–68. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.620.
ABSTRACT: This paper is a reflection on the influence of Bela H. Banathy’s scholarship and leadership in the field of social systems design. In particular, the focus of this paper is on the development of a model of systems design inquiry and a model of systems design communication. The seminal ideas for the models were first explored at the annual Asilomar Conversations hosted by the International Systems Institute (ISI), a non-profit organization founded by Prof. Banathy. The models are representative of the legacy of an ongoing design conversation with Prof. Banathy concerning the integration of human values into a systems science approach to the challenge of securing improvement in the human condition.
KEYWORDS: Bela H. Banathy; inquiring systems; design inquiry; design communication
Dyer, Gordon. ‘Designing and Sustaining Effective Conversation’, 2016.
OPENING: The aim of this Guidebook is to help participants in conversations of the International Federation of Systems research (IFSR), both those invited to convene and lead, and those who are invited as members of a team, to have a productive and enriching learning experience. The Guidebook includes some theory underpinning its recommendations, which it then summarises as a practical checklist.
Banathy, B. H. & Jenlink, J. P. (2008). Dialogue as a Collective Means of Design Conversation. New York, NY: Springer.
OPENING: In this opening chapter, first, I review the purpose of this Compendium and provide an overview of the learning journey presented by the editors and authors. The chapter is presented in two parts. Part I begins with an exploration of the meaning of design conversation. Then, I examine the relationship of design conversation to future building and consciousness evolving within society. Design conversation is introduced as a form of conversation that enables our species to transcend existing systems through communicative and emancipatory action. As such, design conversation relies on discourses that are democratizing and authentically participative. Design conversation creates social spaces, within which participants’ voices are valued, listened to, and have an influence on the conceptions and actions necessary for designing a new system. The chapter will examine why design conversation is important as well as how it may be used to create a collective evolutionary consciousness essential to designing our own future. Part II overviews how the compendium is framed into five themes, which present a reflective context for exploring dialogue conversation.
Horiuchi, Yoshihide. ‘Disseminating Tacit Knowing of Design Conversation’. Systemic Practice and Action Research 17, no. 4 (August 2004): 341–52. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:SPAA.0000040652.19982.8c.
ABSTRACT: One of Bela H. Banathy’s most significant contributions to the systems design and research community was his initiation of systems design conversations, together with his colleagues. The purposes of this paper are: (1) To identify and classify tacit knowing, including explicit knowledge, of design conversation; (2) To identify the target audience for dissemination of such tacit knowing; and (3) To discuss the potentials and tasks for the design conversation community for making significant contributions to human betterment by disseminating its tacit knowing.
KEY WORDS: design conversation; tacit knowing; Fuschl; Asilomar; Polanyi.
THE NEW AGORAS PROJECT
Jenlink, Patrick, and Bela Banathy. ‘The Agora Project: The New Agoras of the Twenty-First Century’. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 19 (1 September 2002): 469–83. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.502.
ABSTRACT: The Agoras of the City States of the Classical Greeks were public spheres where democracy was lived by citizens who made collective decisions about issues affecting their daily lives. The Agora Project—New Agoras—is a metaphor for social action contexts in which people can make collective decisions about their future. People in the settings of their families, neighborhoods, community groups, organizations and institutions have the potential to organize themselves as evolutionary design communities. Participants in the Agora Project collectively enjoin to establish a new public sphere that can sustain a meaningful actionable design dialogue among individuals within and across New Agoras. These New Agoras, communicatively linked, would serve as the infrastructure for democratic civil society and a system of public spheres animated by evolutionary conversation and guided by evolutionary design with purpose of self-guided evolution of the society—cultural evolution of our species, Homo sapiens sapiens. Critical to the Agora Project is the establishment of stewardship communities. The task of these communities is to create knowledge bases for evolutionary inquiry, develop resources for evolutionary learning and explore suitable approaches, methods and technologies. This article will present an overview of the Agora Project and the Agora Steward Community that has evolved in relation to the project. Organization of the article includes: (1) an examination of the evolution of humankind, (2) a discussion of conscious purposeful evolution, (3) an examination of the Agora of ancient Athens, (4) an introduction of the New Agoras as a metaphor for social action in contemporary society, (5) a discussion of the New Agoras as public spheres for democratic civil society, (6) a description of the Agora Project, and (7) a discussion of the New Agoras as public spheres for evolutionary design.
KEYWORDS: Agora; the Agora Project; civil society; conscious self-guided evolution; democracy; democratic discourse; evolution; evolutionary guidance systems; guided evolution; New Agoras; public sphere; societal evolution
Espinosa, Angela, and Stuart Umpleby. ‘Reflections on the New Agoras Project: A Report on a Fuschl Conversation’. Systems Research and Behavioral Science 24, no. 1 (2007): 15–26. https://doi.org/10.1002/sres.721.
ABSTRACT: The New Agoras Project is the result of the leadership of Bela H. Banathy in encouraging ideal-seeking conversations in many venues, including the Fuschl conversations held for several years in Fuschl, Austria, under the sponsorship of the International Federation for Systems Research. In April 2002 one of the conversations in Fuschl was devoted to the New Agoras Project. Doug Walton and Patricia Gill had participated in earlier meetings on the New Agoras Project and so led the conversation. The co-authors of this paper were new to discussions of the New Agoras Project but were familiar with other similar efforts in several countries. This paper is a reflection on the conversation that occurred in Fuschl. It compares the New Agoras Project with the work of the Institute of Cultural Affairs and lists websites and other work that we believe are related to the intent of the New Agoras Project.
KEYWORDS: agoras; evolutionary systems design; group facilitation; syntegration