Women and Other Under-Represented Populations in ISSS. One of the key issues that emerged during the Congress and ISSS Conference concerned not what was happening but what was not happening. It was clear that there were not enough women making presentations and in organizational positions of leadership. It is important to determine why this has occurred and how ISSS can facilitate more balanced programs in the future in terms of gender participation. There is also a need to develop ways to become more representative of the diversity of populations that exist around the world.
This will be especially critical for ISSS as it plans for its next conference. It was also clear that there were not enough students participating actively in the conference. Students are not only important to the future of ISSS but are important to the health and energy of the Society today.
2. Intellectual Skunk Works. Another topic that came up during the Past President’s Roundtable discussion, which I had the honor of chairing, was a valuable reminder of the role that ISSS has played historically in providing a context for scholars whose ideas were well ahead of their time. The
discussion brought out examples of now-famous thinkers and their ideas that were 20 to 30 years ahead of their time when ISSS was the only professional society willing to give them a forum from which to be heard and published. I believe that it is important for ISSS to remain an intellectual skunk works for new ideas of excellence, especially as we struggle with the issue of defining and confining the field of systems to clearly delineated domains and concepts.
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The society, founded in 1954 by Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard, and Anatol Rapoport as the Society for General Systems Research (SGSR), was created in reaction to the growing disparity between reductionist science and their own scientific understanding of the real world as based on relationships, interrelationships and emergent qualities. Their intention was to integrate different fields of study in the same way that the concept of consilience strives to unify all rational knowledge. Because of this, a role that has been unfairly attributed to ISSS and other systems organizations in the past is one of striving for control and totalization yet this is clearly not the intention of the Society.