Systems Thinking And Complexity Science

Gerald Midgley; Kurt A. Richardson; Wendy J. Gregory

Following the success of the previous ANZSYS conferences and ìManaging the Complex ù events, it was a pleasure to announce the 11th Annual ANZSYS/Managing the Complex V Conference. The conference was held in the city of Christchurch in New Zealand from 5-7 December 2005, and was co-hosted by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Limited (ESR), New Zealand, and the Institute for the study of Coherence and Emergence (ISCE), USA. A lively forum for discussion and debate was provided for a wide range of academics and practitioners in the fields of systems thinking, complexity science and management. People from other disciplines who have an interest in the application of systems thinking and complexity approaches were also invited to participate. We brought together thinkers and practitioners in the fields of systems and complexity as it seemed to us that there has been a significant international resurgence in these areas in recent years. It would appear that this has been driven by at least four simultaneous forces: 1. people right across the public, private and voluntary sectors looking for new ways to manage or deal with increasingly complex and multi-faceted problems; 2. the obviously systemic character of many high-profile issues that transcend national boundaries, from global warming to international violence; 3. the popularization of a number of systems approaches in the mid-1990s, especially among managers and policy makers; 4. and the simultaneous popularization of complexity science, sparking major interest in new approaches to managing uncertainty. The fields of systems and complexity have many similarities, yet they are being developed by two overlapping research communities that have unique insights to bring to bear on the management of úwicked Ñ problems. We believe that, by providing forums, such as this conference, in which people working at the frontiers of complexity and systems thinking can learn from one another, significant new insights for action can emerge. At the end of the day, it is important to the vast majority of those working with complexity and systems ideas that they are able to make a positive difference in people Ñs lives. It is therefore vitally important that we share our insights and build a community of practitioners that can take the research agenda forward. Our aim is to bring together as many people as possible who are engaging with complex environmental, social and business issues, with the intention of promoting an intense and lively debate with real implications for systems and complexity! practice. Our hope is that this conference was a step in the right direction.

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