Founding of the IFSR

Global conflicts like World War I and World War II, the related economic and social crises, social unrest, global interaction of powers, and the fragmentation of science made far –thinking scientists aware that a new paradigm for analyzing, understanding and hopefully ameliorating world problems. Scientists such as Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Norbert Wiener, and their colleagues found a response to these problems: holistic rather than fragmented, linear thinking, decision-making, and acting. They established two sciences to support humankind in the effort of meeting this end as a promising alternative to local and worldwide crises. These sciences were Systems Theory and Cybernetics. System was and is the word characterizing this new paradigm: Considering the whole and avoiding one-sidedness in order to survive.

From this combination most modern approaches, most modern knowledge in all spheres of human activity, solutions to environmental problems, etc., most of the existing problems can be ascribed to a lack of systemic thinking this combination, and there are many around that can hardly be solved without systems thinking and creative co-operation of diverse specialists. Our responsibility for the future obliges us to try to improve the current situation and not to leave an excessive burden to future generation. In the early 50’s of the past century few scientists and societies were explicitly working in the field of Systems Sciences and Cybernetics. It was decided to interlink these societies and all groups of system thinkers around the world in order to try to find answers to some of the pressing problems of the world.

On March 12, 1980 during the 5th EMCSR-Congress in Vienna the then three important societies in the area of Systems Research,

  • the Österreichische Studiengesellschaft für Kybernetik (OSCG) ,
  • the Systemgroup Nederland, and
  • the Society for General System Research founded the International Federation for Systems Research.
  • The key persons were: Robert Trappl, George J. Klir, Gerard de Zeeuw. They became the first officers of the IFSR (see IFSR Newsletter vol. 24, no. 1 (Nov. 2006), [http://www.ifsr.org/newsletters]).

Strong support came from the then Austrian Ministry of Science and Research in the person of Dr. Norbert Rozsenich who gave strong encouragement and provided financial support. F. de P. Hanika accepted the responsibility of Editor-in-Chief of the Newsletter of the IFSR.

 

====== A historical report from 1981 ====l

IFSR Newsletter, 1981, No. 1, Autumn

Originally envisaged as a European Federation for Cybernetics and Systems Research. In discussion between Prof. Dr. Robert Trappl, President of the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies and Professor Gerrit Broekstra and Professor Gerard de Zeeuw of the Systeem Groep, Nederlande plans formulated at the European Meeting for Cybernetics and Systems Research 1976 in Vienna were later reshaped at the EMCSR 78 in Linz, when Professor Klir (and others) indica- ted interest in their respective assiociations joining such an organization to set up an International Federation. Now IFSR has become a registered body as a “Verein” (=’rgistered society’) under Austrian law on March 12, 19B0, located at Laxenburg (Austria) instead of the Netherlands as contemplated at first. This change is the outcome of the successful efforts by the Presi- dent of ASCS to interest the Austrian Federal Minister for Science and Research, Dr. Hertha Firnberg, in supporting the new venture. However, as the premises at Laxenberg are not yet available, the Federation address will meanwhile be at Schottengasse 3, Vienna, Austria.

The Founder Member Societies

OSTERREICHISCHE STUDIEN·GESELLSCHAFT FOR KYBERNETIK

Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies
A-1010 Wien 1, Schottengasse 3, Tel. 636112

A non-profit organization of scientists and practitioners, founded 1970.

Aims: Its aims are “the study of the theoretical bases of cybernetics and its special fields, the investigation of its applications on technical, economic and social problems,
its relations to problems studied in the natural sciences and the humanities; furthermore, education in the methods of cybernetics and its technical aids, especially in electronic data processing; finally, advancement of interdisciplinary studies, and the representation of Austria in
international organizations” (Art. 2 of the charter).

Research activities: The relation between the foundations of theoretical physics and cybernetics, the application of information-theoretical measures to the analysis of different languages, the development of fast interactive simulation programs, mathematical models of social stability and structural change, computer-aided planning of health care resource requirements.

Journal: “Cybernetics and Systems: An International Journal”.

Reports: Appearing at irregular intervals, they present results of recent in-house research-work, experiences of practitioners or critical surveys. They include notable work by other scientists of interest to the scientific community.

Education: In addition to introductory seminars on cybernetics and informations, 16 concentrated courses were given on topics of theoretical and applied cybernetics. The majority of our participants come from the universities, the ministries, firms and banks. As another activity, leading scientists or experts on applications are invited to give a lecture about their latest work. 87 scientists from 22 countries have so far been guest speakers.

Consulting: On several occasions, the Society has been asked to serve in a consulting capacity on federal and ciyic projects.

Funds: The Society attempts to cover the bulk of its costs by modest tuition charges for the courses it offers and its consulting activities. Further support is received from the Federal Ministry of Science and Research, the City of Vienna, and other industrial and official organizations.

International Relations: The Society maintains close contact with the Society for General Systems Research and the Nederlands Systeem Groep. The Society has cooperated with these two groups in establishingthe International Federation for Systems Research. The Society invites also non-Austrian scientists to join the Austrian group by becoming International Affiliates.

Please ask for special information form.

Conferences: The Society has organized since 1972 its biannual Euroean Meeting on Cybernetics and Systems Research.

SOCIETY FOR GENERAL SYSTEMS RESEARCH

Offices: Systems Science Institute, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA.

Founded in 1954, the overall purpose is to promote the philosophical and theoretical views of systems through encouraging research and facilitating communication between and among scientists and professionals from various disciplines and professions at local, regional, national and international levels. Its aims are:

  1. To foster the investigation of the isomorphy of concepts, laws and models in various disciplines and professions.
  2. To facilitate transfer of concepts, laws and models across disciplines and professions.
  3. To encourage development of theoretical models where they are lacking
  4. To minimize duplicating efforts between and among disciplines and professions
  5. To perform, encourage and provide for charitable, religious, scientific, literary and educational acts and works

The society sponsors 4 kinds of publications; spons• several kinds of meetings. As an affiliate of the AAAS, the Society’s Annual Meeting is held in conjunction with and as part of the Annual AAAS Meeting. It also holds regional program meetings in large centers in USA and overseas, such as the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies the Institute of General Semantics and the International Conference on Computer Communication.

The society is internationally active through its (a) Overseas Regional Divisions (b) consultative relationsship with major UN entities: UNESCO and ESOSOC (c) participates in UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) in Nairo- bi, Kenya.

The society encourages and supports the formation of local chapters worldwide.

SYSTEEMGROEP NEDERLAND

Secretariat: Dr. H. Oud, Erasmusplein 1, 6 500 HD Nijmegan, Holland.

The SN was founded in 1970 to promote interdisciplinary research activities based on the systems approach and more generally to stimulate the study of systems and systems theory.

The SN has tried to realize its aims in a variety of activities. It published the Annals of Systems Research (stopped after 7 Vols. for financial reasons). It managed a Newsletter and has just started a new journal SYSTEMATICA. The group organizes also yearly Summer courses for graduates from Dutch universities; also an International Summer School was started in 1979; it is intended to have a second one in 1982. The group has also organized a biannual series of meetings on various types of problem areas in inquiry. In 1979 the conference was on “Problems of Context”; in 1981 on “Problems of Levels and Boundaries”; in 1982 the provisional topic is “Problems of Grounded Action”. In the Course of each year various speakers of international repute have been invited. A culmination of such an activity happened in the Volendem meeting organized for the 10th Anniversary of the SN.

SN supports itself entirely, mainly via tuition fees and sales of publications. It has now a solid financial basis.

Members of SN have a strong interest in international cooperation. They attend many meetings and are part of many organizations;