International Society for the Systems Sciences

International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
Founded 1954
Type Professional Organization
Focus Systems sciences
Origins Society for General Systems Research (SGSR)
Area served
Method Special Integration Groups, Conferences, Publications
Key people
Alexander Laszlo (scientist) (current president),
Gerald Midgley president elect,
David Ing past president,
Jennifer Wilby 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]

The society initiated in 1954 as Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory started in 1955/56 as Society for General Systems Research, and became the first interdisciplinary and international co-operations 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 Society for the Advancement of General Systems Theory.[3] The next year Boulding, Gerard and Rapoport started working together with James Grier Miller at the Mental Health Research Institute of University of Michigan. There the society got underway as "Society for General Systems Research".

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

In the 1960s local chapters were established 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 societies journal Behavioral Science, and additional "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] Eventually the society was renamed in 1988 to 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

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]

  • 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, Korea, 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, China 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

See also


  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
  9. ISSS introduction on the ISFR website 2007.
  10. International Society for the Systems Sciences: Past Presidents
  11. Sir Geoffrey Vickers Award on Accessed Sep 12, 2011.
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