• "Environmental pollution is an incurable disease. It can only be prevented."

  • "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

  • "What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

  • "I can find God in nature, in animals, in birds and the environment."

  • "We won't have a society if we destroy the environment."

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List of systems scientists


  • Russell L. Ackoff (1919) is an American scientist in the field of management science, operations research and systems theory.
  • Genrich Altshuller (1926–1998) was a Russian engineer and scientist, and inventor of the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving.
  • Pyotr Anokhin (1898–1974) was a Russian biologist and physiologist who made important contributions to cybernetics and functional systems.
  • Leo Apostel (1925–1995) was a Belgian philosopher who advocated of interdisciplinary research between exact science and humanities.
  • W. Brian Arthur (1945), is an Irish economist, is an expert on economics and complexity theory in technology and financial markets, and other applications.
  • W. Ross Ashby (1903–1972) was an English psychiatrist and a pioneer field of complex systems.


  • Per Bak (1948–2002) was a Danish theoretical physicist, to whom is attributed the development of the concept of self-organized criticality.
  • Bela H. Banathy (1919–2003) was a Hungarian systems scientist, design scientist, educator, author and coordinator of many international systems research conferences.
  • Béla A. Bánáthy (1946?) is an American systems scientist, who works at the International Systems Institute at the Saybrook Graduate School.
  • Yaneer Bar-Yam (1959) is an American physicist, systems scientist and founding president of the New England Complex Systems Institute.
  • Gregory Bateson (1904–1980) was a British anthropologist, social scientist, linguist, and cyberneticist whose work intersected that of many other fields.
  • Kenneth D. Bailey (1943) is an American sociologist, who worked in the field of research methods, systems theory and environmental demography and ecology.
  • Stafford Beer (1926–2002) was a British management scientist, known for his work in the fields of operational research and management cybernetics.
  • Harold Stephen Black (1898–1983) was an American electrical engineer, who revolutionized the field of applied electronics by inventing the negative feedback amplifier in 1927.
  • Alexander Bogdanov (1873–1928) was a Russian physician, philosopher, economist, science fiction writer, and revolutionary.
  • Kenneth E. Boulding (1910–1993) was a British economist, educator, peace activist, poet, religious mystic, devoted Quaker, systems scientist, and interdisciplinary philosopher.
  • Murray Bowen (1913–1990) was an American psychiatrist and pioneers of family therapy and systemic therapy.
  • Valentino Braitenberg (1926) is German neurologist and cyberneticist and pioneer in embodied cognitive science.
  • Richard Peirce Brent (1946) is an Australian mathematician and computer scientist who is known for Brent's method of root finding.
  • Gerrit Broekstra (1941) is a Dutch scientist and professor of organizational behavior and systems sciences.
  • Walter F. Buckley (1922–2006) was an American sociologist, and among the first to apply General systems theory to sociology.

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Hasan Özbekhan

Dr. Özbekhan (1921-2007), who was described as "probably one of the best systems thinker of the 20th century" by his friend Aleco Christakis, was a cyberneticist, philosopher and planner of Turkish origin who was Professor Emeritus of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. During his twenty-two years' tenure there he was Professor of Operations Research and Statistics, then Professor and Chairman of the Social Systems Sciences Department. In 1986 he became Professor of Management. Concurrently with these positions he held the Chairmanship of the Graduate Group in Social Systems Sciences.

Prior to joining the faculty of the Wharton School, Dr. Ozbekhan was cofounder and first director of The Club of Rome, with Aurelio Peccei an Italian Industrialist, and Alexander N. Christakis, a physicist and systems research designer. In 1970 Ozbekhan wrote the original prospectus for The Club of Rome "The Predicament of Mankind."

Earlier, Dr. Ozbekhan had published his famous "futures creation" planning model "Toward a General Theory of Planning", in PERSPECTIVES OF PLANNING 47-155 (OEDC Report, Jantsch, ed. 1968), which was elaborated by Christakis, "A New Policy Science Paradigm," in FUTURES, Dec 1973, at 543.

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What is Panarchy?

PanarchyPanarchy is a conceptual framework to account for the dual, and seemingly contradictory, characteristics of all complex systems – stability and change. It is the study of how economic growth and human development depend on ecosystems and institutions, and how they interact. It is an integrative framework, bringing together ecological, economic and social models of change and stability, to account for the complex interactions among both these different areas, and different scale levels.

Panarchy’s focus is on management of regional ecosystems, defined in terms of catchments, but it deals with the impact of lower, smaller, faster changing scale levels, as well as the larger, slower supra-regional and global levels. Its goal is to develop the simplest conceptual framework necessary to describe the twin dynamics of change and stability across both disciplines and scale levels. 

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Feedback, Adaptation and Stability

William Ross Ashby

Feedback, Adaptation and Stability

Selected Passages from Design for a Brain
(The origin of adaptive behaviour)



These are selected passages from Ross Ashby classic text Design for a Brain (1960).

They represent a mine of intuitions and data that could be applied to the social environment (e.g. society as a brain in constant search of dynamic balance). This mental exercise would highlight the past and current failings in adapting to the requirements of the environment by any centralised ruler (e.g. the central state, the central bank, the central planner, etc.) intent on ignoring reality and the limits imposed by reality and in pursuit of extravagant power and riches. Being this the actual case, the final result is likely to be a disastrous feedback that amplifies disequilibria and plunges everybody into a protracted depression or even a never ending decadence; unless we understand how the brain-human being works and we are willing to put again nature and human nature as the central focus of our thinking and caring. 


The words 'stability', 'steady state', and 'equilibrium' are used by a variety of authors with a variety of meanings, though there is always the same underlying theme.

The subject may be opened by a presentation of the three standard elementary examples. A cube resting with one face on a horizontal surface typifies 'stable' equilibrium; a sphere resting on a horizontal surface typifies 'neutral' equilibrium; and a balanced cone on its point typifies 'unstable' equilibrium. With neutral and unstable equilibria we shall have little concern but the concept of 'stable equilibrium' will be used repeatedly.

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What is complexity science?

Complexity science is a broad and multi-disciplinary subject. In a wide range of systems that are the subject of study in biology, in the social sciences and in industrial applications, computational modelling is undertaken to study the behaviour of these sytems; Mathematical developments and modelling approaches from physics can be used to better understand these systems; And expertise in domains from software engineering to systems biology can be used both to inspire new approaches and apply new results.

 The concerns that complexity science addresses has developed from investigations from a varied intellectual ancestry. Some of it has developed from work in cybernetics in the 1940s, to work on general systems theory in the 50s, chaos and catastrophe theory in dynamical systems in the 1960s and 70s, to work on complex systems spearheaded in the 80s by groups like the Santa Fe Institute. Some of this work focussed on abstract mathematical systems and simple physical systems, e.g. sand piles, but more recently, interest has increased in complex adaptive systems, such as social systems, biological systems, and technological systems where the parts actively change the way they interact. The increased use of computer simulation and interest in biological questions created research in artificial life and the simulation of adaptive behaviour in the 1990s.

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