2016/07/29 09:10 Pamela Buckle Henning, “The Challenge of Graduate Research in Systems Science and Practice”, ISSS 2016 Boulder

Plenary @ISSSMeeting Pamela Buckle Henning, Keynote #isss2016USA, 60th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences and 1st Policy Congress of ISSS, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Day 5 theme:  Education, Communication, and Capacity

Plenary IX: Human Capacity, Communication, and Student Research

  • Description: Systemic Sustainability and Systems Literacy ultimately involve transformative changes at the personal and social level. What individualcompetencies are needed and how will student researchers navigate the treacherous waters ahead for ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers? We emphasize theimportance of integrated personal skills and effective collaborative and innovative networking to build transformative communities.

Chair: Pamela Buckle Henning, Adelphi University

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

Pamela Buckle presentation

[Pamela Buckle]

Shift attention to interiority

Student journey

  • Was taking course in Calgary in organization theory
  • Wanted to fix things

Robert E. Quinn, Deep Change

  • Book influenced life
  • Professor from U. Michigan
  • You are a system, based on systems of internal and external ….  Routine patterns will lead you towards decay.  Decline …  Deep change, to take the road to slow death.
  • Change in major in scope
  • Surrendering control
  • Walking into uncertainty
  • External alignment can be lost … only if you’re willing to take big risks.
  • Push or pull into unknown territory
  • Systems lined with today, not yesterday

From Gunter Pauli, learned about turning point making him a distrurber

Working on the edge

Conference in big ideas

  • Not just big ideas, navigating treacherous waters ahead

Deep change agent, will feel intimidating

We are students, living at this earth, at this time

  • Treachery, betrayal
  • Being handed over to a messy situation

We’re in the business in the science of wholeness

  • Experience this, feeling small, feeling awe, feeling overwhelmed

Messy situations is what systems researchers are in business to address

  • Schooled to be exceptional thinkers
  • But problem won’t be met by parts

Bring wholeness

  • Wholeness is your shadow:  part that you’ve repressed
  • We need resources that transcend


  • It’s about what you perceive that others can’t
  • Not everyone can perceive that

Need some competencies

Competency #1:  Perceiving order

Competency #2:  Engaging with the unknown, being in the present

Focusing on the interiority

Buy the book:  A Guide to Systems Research

Cultivating skills in skilfully handling unknowns

  • Polychronicity (Haase Lee and Banks 1979)
  • Tolerance of ambiguity (Frekel-Brunswik 1949)

Competency #3:  Rigourous reflexivity

  • Get acquainted with your own perceptual apparatus

Human capacity for the road ahead

  • Meet the world’s challenge
  • Commit with group

90% of the world’s scientists that ever lived are alive today

Started with interiority, ended to do this together


New students trying to align philosophical views are overwhelmed.

  • People who have been working on this for decades are also overwhelmed.

Necessity of finding strengths in ourselves.  What constitutes students.  Etymology of school from Greek leisure.  In order to be a student, can’t continue to be with what’s happening in the U.S., where students have to work and can’t have leisure.  Students are distracted by how to make a living, by at the same time going to school.

  • Greatest moment of despair when I don’t have enough time.  Trying to compartmentalize life is breaking apart the wholeness.

We don’t design for others, we design with others.  We design for ourselves, we shift back and forth.

Challenge for this society, to focus on the sustainability of the human system.  To make a whole, we have to accept what we are, and what we are not.  If the key is to understand all of the wisdom and knowledge, ….

Shift between San Jose conference and this one.  Systems thinker out there, isolated.  Difficult to get the support.  If all of our intelligence has to be brought out, it’s a piece of work.  Requires family, community.

  • In Calgary, studying.  Allan Combs said should go to a systems conference.  Went to Asilomar 2001.
  • Live out loud.

How to deal with context to enable.  There’s another form of feedback.  The inadequacy of the architecture for enabling reflexivity.

Teach mostly postgraduate students.  Teach mostly practitioner.  Leisure is important, but for these students, work is important.  I learn more from them.  Trying to teach a practice that they’re practicising.  Used to take students away for leisure, now everything is on the Internet

  • Need to shift from compartmentalizing life, for more clear and direct presence.

#isss, #isss2016