Ranulph Glanville

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Ranulph Glanville (13 June 1946 – 20 December 2014) was an Anglo-Irish cybernetician and design theorist. He was founding Vice-President of the American Society for Cybernetics from 2006 to 2009, and President of the American Society for Cybernetics from 2009 to 2014.


Glanville studied architecture at the Architectural Association School in London, 1964-67 and 1969-71. He then went on to study for a doctorate in cybernetics with Gordon Pask at Brunel University (1975).[1] He took another PhD, also at Brunel, in relationships between architecture and language, in the Centre for the Study of Human Learning (1988).[2] Brunel awarded him a higher doctorate (DSc) in cybernetics and design in 2006.[3]


Glanville taught at the School of Architecture, Portsmouth University (1978-96) and was later professor of research in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art, London (2008-14), and was also a professor of research design in the Faculty of Architecture, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and adjunct professor of design research at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.[citation needed]


Glanville’s many areas of interest included his “Theory of Objects”[citation needed] — a theory he argued second-order cybernetics cannot properly work without — and Black box theory. He also developed connections between cybernetics and design.

In his time as President of the American Society for Cybernetics, Glanville addressed the challenge Margaret Mead set the Society at its inaugural conference in 1967,[4] that of applying cybernetic ideas to the formation of the society itself. While the main legacy of Mead's remarks has been the development of the epistemological concerns of second-order cybernetics (the cybernetics of cybernetics) by von Foerster and others,[5][6] Glanville addressed them more directly in the innovative conversational (cybernetic) formats of the society's conferences, interpreting second order cybernetics in terms of how cybernetics may be practised cybernetically.[7]


Glanville developed a variety of views of design in relationship to science, research, and cybernetics.[8][9][10]


A fully comprehensive list is on Glanville's personal CV.[11] Many papers and other writings were collected in The Black Boox.[12]


  1. ^ http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/4286
  2. ^ http://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/5018
  3. ^ Brier, S. (2008) "Ranulph Glanville: The Cybernetician of Ignorance", Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol. 15, no. 1 pp. 81-89.
  4. ^ Mead, M. (1968). The cybernetics of cybernetics. In H. von Foerster, J. D. White, L. J. Peterson & J. K. Russell (Eds.), Purposive Systems (pp. 1–11). New York, NY: Spartan Books.
  5. ^ Glanville, R. (2002). Second order cybernetics. In F. Parra-Luna (Ed.), Systems science and cybernetics. In Encyclopaedia of life support systems (EOLSS). Oxford: EoLSS. Retrieved from http://www.eolss.net/
  6. ^ von Foerster, H. (2003). Cybernetics of cybernetics. In Understanding understanding: Essays on cybernetics and cognition (pp. 283–286). New York, NY: Springer-Verlag. (Reprinted from: Communication and control, pp. 5–8, by K. Krippendorff, Ed., 1979, New York, NY: Gordon and Breach).
  7. ^ Glanville, R. (2011). Introduction: A conference doing the cybernetics of cybernetics. Kybernetes, 40(7/8): 952–963. doi: 10.1108/03684921111160197. Westermann, C. (2010). Cybernetics: Art, Design, Mathematics – A Meta-Disciplinary Conversation Archived 23 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Leonardo Reviews Quarterly, 1(02), 24–26. Richards, L. D. (2015). Designing Academic Conferences in the Light of Second-Order Cybernetics. Constructivist Foundations, 11(1), 65–73. Sweeting, B., & Hohl, M. (2015). Exploring Alternatives to the Traditional Conference Format: Introduction to the Special Issue on Composing Conferences. Constructivist Foundations, 11(1): 1–7. Hohl, M., & Sweeting, B. (Eds.). (2015). Composing conferences. Special issue of Constructivist Foundations, 11(1). Retrieved from http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/11/1
  8. ^ Glanville, R. 'Why Design Research?' in Jacques, R. and Powell, J. (Eds.), Design, Science, Method: Proceedings of the 1980 Design Research Society conference, Westbury House, Guildford, pp. 86–94, 1981.
  9. ^ Glanville, R. 'Researching Design and Designing Research', Design Issues, 15(2), pp. 80-91, 1999.
  10. ^ Glanville, R. 'Try Again. Fail Again. Fail Better: The cybernetics in design and the design in cybernetics', Kybernetes, 36(9/10), 1173–1206, 2007. 10.1108/03684920710827238
  11. ^ http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/people/glanville/cv.html
  12. ^ https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03081079.2012.676239?journalCode=ggen20

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