International Society for the Systems Sciences

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International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
TypeProfessional Organization
FocusSystems sciences
OriginsSociety for General Systems Research (SGSR)
Area served
MethodSpecial Integration Groups, Conferences, Publications
Key people
Roelien Goede (current president),
George Mobus (past president),
Jennifer Makar (VP of Administration)

The International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) is a worldwide organization for systems sciences. The overall purpose of the ISSS is:

"to promote the development of conceptual frameworks based on general system theory, as well as their implementation in practice. It further seeks to encourage research and facilitate communication between and among scientists and professionals from various disciplines and professions at local, regional, national, and international levels."[1]

Initially conceived in 1954 as the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory, and started in 1955/56, the Society for General Systems Research became the first interdisciplinary and international co-operation in the field of systems theory and systems science.[2] In 1988 it was renamed to the International Society for the Systems Sciences.


The society was initiated in 1954 by biologists Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Ralph Gerard, economist Kenneth Boulding, and mathematician Anatol Rapoport at the Stanford Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. They called a meeting at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Berkeley in 1954. At this meeting, attended by seventy people, the society was conceived as the Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory.[3] The next year Boulding, Gerard and Rapoport started working with James Grier Miller at the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan. There the society got underway as "Society for General Systems Research".

The statement of the mission of the society was formulated with the following four objectives:[4]

  • to investigate the isomorphy of concepts, laws, and models in various fields, and to help in useful transfers from one field to another
  • to encourage the development of adequate theoretical models in areas which lack them
  • to eliminate the duplication of theoretical efforts in different fields
  • to promote the unity of science through improving the communication among specialists.

In the 1960s local chapters were established in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C, and Florida.[5] Annual meetings were held in the winter, and annually a General Systems Yearbook was published. Periodical articles were published in the society's journal Behavioral Science, and additionally "The Bulletin" offered regional and thematic publications.

In 1971 the Society had 1100 individual and 6 institutional members, and a membership in some societies affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[6] In 1988, the society was renamed the 'International Society for the Systems Sciences' (ISSS).[7] to "reflect its broadening scope".[8]


Important activities of the Society are:

A listing of the Special Integration Groups (SIGs) gives an idea of the themes of ongoing development in the Society:[9]


Among the Presidents of ISSS have been foremost scientists from several fields and countries, including some Nobel laureates:[10]

Sir Geoffrey Vickers Memorial Award[edit]

The Sir Geoffrey Vickers Memorial Award is an annual award in memory of Sir Geoffrey Vickers for outstanding student papers at the pre-doctoral level in the field of the systems sciences. A listing of recipients:[11]

  • 1985 New York, Ib Ravn
  • 1986 Philadelphia, Doug Elias
  • 1987 Budapest, two awards: Alexander Laszlo; Lynda J. Davies and Paul W.J. Ledington (co-authors)
  • 1988 St Louis, J. Donald R. de Raadt
  • 1989 Edinburgh, Béla A. Bánáthy
  • 1990 Portland, two awards: Sally Goerner; Daune West
  • 1991 Sweden, Erin Artigiani, Cliff Joslyn
  • 1992 Denver, Sen Suan Tan
  • 1993 Australia, Jeremy Chui
  • 1994 Asilomar, T. Dahl and Darek Erikson
  • 1995 Amsterdam, two awards: Craig Crabtree; Jennifer Wilby
  • 1996 Louisville, Parviz Ahari
  • 1996 Budapest, No Award
  • 1997 Seoul, No Award
  • 1998 Atlanta, Martine Dodds
  • 1999 Asilomar, Molly Dwyer and Jane Zimmerman
  • 2000 Toronto, two awards: Gabor Horvath; Kathia Laszlo
  • 2001 Asilomar, Lynn M. Rasmussen
  • 2002 Shanghai, two awards: Pamela Buckle; K. C. Wang
  • 2003 Crete, Sabrina Brahms
  • 2004 Asilomar, Janette Young
  • 2005 Cancun, Honorato Teissier
  • 2006 Sonoma, Hanne Birgitte Jensen
  • 2007 Tokyo, Nicholas Magliocca
  • 2008 Madison, Devin Wixon
  • 2009 Brisbane, Anne Stephens
  • 2010 Waterloo, Todd D Bowers
  • 2011 Kingston upon Hull, Mary C Edson
  • 2012 San Jose, William J. Varey
  • 2013 Hai Phong, Victor MacGill
  • 2014 Washington, Anne Powel Davis
  • 2015 Berlin, Alexandre Strapasson
  • 2016 Boulder, Skyler Knox Perkins
  • 2017 Vienna, No Award
  • 2018 Corvallis, Sage McKenzie Kittleman
  • 2019 Corvallis, Oregon, Peter L Roolf

See also[edit]


  1. ^ International Society for the Systems Sciences: Bylaws
  2. ^ Jessica Kuper, Adam Kuper (1985) The Social Science Encyclopedia. p.330 confirms that the general systems movement was initially represented by the Society for General Systems Research.
  3. ^ Mark Davidson (1983) Uncommon sense: the life and thought of Ludwig von Bertalanffy. p.19
  4. ^ "Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory" in: General program. Vol.124. American Association for the Advancement of Science (1956) p.223
  5. ^ Scientific and Technical Societies of the United States. Vol 8 (1968), p.159
  6. ^ National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) (1971). Scientific, technical and related societies of the United States. 9th edition. National academy of sciences, 1971. ISBN 0309018609. p.171
  7. ^ SGSR History at
  8. ^ "International Society for the Systems Sciences: Overview". Archived from the original on 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
  9. ^ ISSS introduction on the ISFR website 2007.
  10. ^ International Society for the Systems Sciences: Past Presidents
  11. ^ International Society for the Systems Sciences: Student Awards

External links[edit]

  • Homepage of the International Society of Systems Science
  • ISSS introduction on the IFSR website