Civilisation at the Crossroads –
Response and Responsibility of the Systems Sciences
Vienna, 22-25 April 2014
Theme and topics
The theme of the upcoming EMCSR 2014 is “Civilisation at the Crossroads: Response and Responsibility of the Systems Sciences”. The term “systems sciences” is meant to denote every scientific endeavour that deals with systems and connects to the term “systems”; thus it includes disciplines such as systems engineering or systems thinking and systems philosophy.
The upcoming EMCSR 2014 will offer a mix of showcases and criticism, in-depth-discussion and paper presentations. The objective is to contribute to a common understanding of the systems sciences in the face of the threats to human civilisation.
The following topics are welcome on the agenda.
Topics that question the tools, the scope and the aims of systems sciences:
- What are the particular concepts and foundational assumptions by which we approach real-world problems?
- Can we discern concepts and foundational assumptions that better suit a problem at hand? If yes, do we realise that our civilisation is in a deep crisis? If yes, do we realise that this crisis is a systemic one? If yes, how do our particular approaches respond to the crisis? What are the foundations that are needed to help us overcome the crisis?
- Do we accept responsibility for our findings? If yes, do we share the responsibility for the applications of our findings? If yes, do we share the responsibility for the fate of our civilisation? If yes, can we evaluate which solutions are successful and desirable?
Topics that revolve around the basic question of whether or not there is a systemic imperative that must be met to secure survival in a civilisation worth living:
- Can we use all available knowledge about the systems that constitute our world so as to make the world system safe from man-made failures? If yes, is it, in a word, imperative to design a global sustainable information society? Is every research and development in systems sciences and every implementation of systems technologies subject to that imperative?
Topics that question the importance of findings in natural systems, in artificial systems or in social systems that combine natural with artificial ones:
- Are technological systems engineered to propel civilisation? Do assessment studies support that view or does engineering need to reflect on how to shape technologies?
- Are ecological systems managed to sustain civilised life? Does ecological research support that view or are more than a dozen severe problems in eco-systems an evidence of mismanagement?
- Are economic systems to provide with resources in a civilised way? Do wealth distribution reports support that view or is there a need to revisit solidarity?
- Are political systems to consult the citizens in civilised decision-making? Do governance studies support that view or is there even in democracies a tendency to prioritise violence, suppression and the military factor instead of peaceful means of conflict transformation?
- Are cultural systems to set the rules of civilised living-together? Do cultural studies support that view or are we confronted with a proliferation of parochialism and fundamentalism instead of respect for otherness?
Submission of symposia proposals
Since the meeting is to facilitate self-organisation of researchers and practitioners for the sake of self-reflection of the field, you are encouraged to suggest symposia around the issues at stake.
A symposium consists of one or more sessions. As usual, a session will last 90 minutes. You are free to choose a proper format for each session (and combine different formats for one symposium). Session formats can range from paper sessions to podiums to panels to round tables to workshops to open spaces etc.
Suggestions are welcome before 20 October to wolfgang.hofkirchner at bcsss.org (pls, replace the character string “blank-a-t-blank” by the correct sign). They shall contain
- the name(s) of the symposium chair(s),
- the title of the symposium,
- one paragraph of up to 200 words that lays out the content of what shall be discussed and how it refers to the overall theme,
- a description of the format chosen,
- and, if appropriate, a plan for the succession of sessions and/or events within a session.