Presenter/Author Information

C. J. A. Macleod

Keywords

socio-ecological, systems biology, general system theory, ecosystem services, analytical-deliberative

Start Date

1-7-2010 12:00 AM

Description

Systems based approaches have been developed and applied in a broad range ofdisciplines. These cover a wide range of processes, structures and scales. Ludwig vonBertalanffy is often credited with establishing and developing ‘general systems theory’.The ecosystem based approach to ecology developed by the Odum brothers (EugenePleasants and Howard Thomas) instigated approaches to understanding ecological systemsthat are still advancing within the frameworks of ecosystem services and ecologicalthermodynamics. West Churchman and Russel Ackoff were early pioneers in the field ofoperations research following on from techniques developed during the Second WorldWar. Jay Forrester was also influenced by his work on feedback systems during theSecond World War and went onto apply these engineering principles to managementissues. In part due to limitations of ‘hard’ systems based approaches such as operationsresearch and systems dynamics, Peter Checkland and others promoted ‘soft’ systemsmethodologies in the 1970s to take greater account of the social processes at the heart ofcomplex situations. Social learning theory of Albert Bandura has been a key component of‘soft’ system approaches. In the ecological domain it has been realized that social as wellas ecological components of the system need to be considered. At the same time theecosystem service framework has been widely utilized to help assess what benefits humansreceive from the wider environment. ‘Sustainability science’ has been suggested as a newapproach that can help scientists work with a wider set of stakeholders to address societalneeds. At a smaller spatial scale significant advances at the sub-cellular and cellular scaleby Hiroaki Kitano and colleagues in systems biology, has been enabled by rapid increasesin the data and information available through genomic sequencing and high throughputassays. Just as with the birth of ‘general systems theory’ and cybernetics in the 1920-1950sthere is a need to assess what can be learned from these often disparate systems basedapproaches and how we can work towards integrating our understanding and models fromthe sub-cellular level to the global scale. Here I suggest that diagramming, network theorycombined with markup languages based on data and meta-data standards within ananalytical-deliberative framework can lead to learning and greater integration across thesedisparate systems based approaches.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

What Can We Learn From Systems Based Approaches: From Systems Biology to Earth Systems Science?

Systems based approaches have been developed and applied in a broad range ofdisciplines. These cover a wide range of processes, structures and scales. Ludwig vonBertalanffy is often credited with establishing and developing ‘general systems theory’.The ecosystem based approach to ecology developed by the Odum brothers (EugenePleasants and Howard Thomas) instigated approaches to understanding ecological systemsthat are still advancing within the frameworks of ecosystem services and ecologicalthermodynamics. West Churchman and Russel Ackoff were early pioneers in the field ofoperations research following on from techniques developed during the Second WorldWar. Jay Forrester was also influenced by his work on feedback systems during theSecond World War and went onto apply these engineering principles to managementissues. In part due to limitations of ‘hard’ systems based approaches such as operationsresearch and systems dynamics, Peter Checkland and others promoted ‘soft’ systemsmethodologies in the 1970s to take greater account of the social processes at the heart ofcomplex situations. Social learning theory of Albert Bandura has been a key component of‘soft’ system approaches. In the ecological domain it has been realized that social as wellas ecological components of the system need to be considered. At the same time theecosystem service framework has been widely utilized to help assess what benefits humansreceive from the wider environment. ‘Sustainability science’ has been suggested as a newapproach that can help scientists work with a wider set of stakeholders to address societalneeds. At a smaller spatial scale significant advances at the sub-cellular and cellular scaleby Hiroaki Kitano and colleagues in systems biology, has been enabled by rapid increasesin the data and information available through genomic sequencing and high throughputassays. Just as with the birth of ‘general systems theory’ and cybernetics in the 1920-1950sthere is a need to assess what can be learned from these often disparate systems basedapproaches and how we can work towards integrating our understanding and models fromthe sub-cellular level to the global scale. Here I suggest that diagramming, network theorycombined with markup languages based on data and meta-data standards within ananalytical-deliberative framework can lead to learning and greater integration across thesedisparate systems based approaches.