Crete 2003

Crete 2003: The 47th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

Hersonissos, Crete, Greece
July 7th - 11th 2003


View the original web pages from 2003.

The conference theme has been chosen to focus attention on: (a) the challenge facing humanity as it transforms from "evolutionary consciousness" to "conscious evolution," and (b) the role systems thinking must play in constructing 21st Century Agoras in the context of globalization.

Globalization is being described by many as an emerging new system of world order that has accelerated following the end of the Cold War order in 1989. Systems thinking must make clear what is being eliminated and what constructed by globalization. We must rise to the challenge of democratizing the processes of conscious evolution to ensure that globalization empowers all peoples and not just elites.

Dialogue is essential for understanding cultures and subcultures in the emerging global village. Boundary-spanning dialogue across disciplines and civilizations, if conducted wisely, can generate democratic agreement on the courses we must pursue to create agoras and avoid Big Brother. Thus, the ability to engage in dialogue becomes one of the most fundamental and most needed human capabilities. Dialogue becomes a central component of any model of conscious evolution.

Dialogue was practiced very effectively in the agoras of Ancient Greece, like the one in Athens. The agoras were public spaces where people congregated and deliberated on their issues. If we want to democratize the emerging global village, we must provide agora-like places where people can engage in meaningful dialogue.

ISSS ( has long advocated "transdisciplinarity." This was indeed the common feature of the four aims of the Society for General System Research (the forerunner of ISSS) as stated by its founders in 1954. Concepts, laws and models developed in particular fields were to be investigated to see if they could be properly transferred to emerging phenomena which were less well conceptualized. The challenges of the 21st Century, associated with conscious evolution and globalization, demand the identification and general transmission of such concepts, laws and models in whatever field they were originally developed in order to enhance humanity's capacity to design the 21st Century Agoras. Systems thinking remains the best hope for this to be achieved.

ISSS 2003 will engage participants in earnest discussion and structured dialogue on topics such as the following:

  • Defining what a democratic global discussion might look like (agora as process);
  • Describing what a global village achieved by an effective global discussion might look like (agora as product);
  • Exploring how local discussions as processes and agoras as product might come about;
  • Making explicit what thinking globally and acting locally means for individuals and groups within ISSS;
  • Fashioning ISSS into a model functioning agora;
  • Deciding how ISSS can become organized for influencing the course of globalization;
  • Discovering how to enhance the practice of boundary-spanning dialogue across disciplines and civilizations.

Conference Objectives:

  1. To work towards making ISSS a living model of a Society capable of appreciating and practicing "conscious evolution;"
  2. To explore and identify the role of systems thinking in the context of the emerging phenomenon of globalization;
  3. To identify action steps in the pathway of constructing the agoras of the global village;
  4. To enhance the praxis of boundary-spanning dialogue across disciplines and civilizations.