There is a long connection between Saybrook and systems conversations, which continues to this day. The semi-annual conversations have been hosted by the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR), and were historically known as the Fuschl Conversations (due to their location at Fuschl am See in Austria). Bela Banathy, the founder of the systems program at Saybrook, initially led these conversations. He extended the conversations through the International Systems Institute, based in the US, hosting annual conversation events at Asilomar, in Pacific Grove, CA. Bela brought me into the IFSR where I have served as part of the Executive Committee since 2002, and President since 2010.
The seventeenth IFSR conversation was held this past April in Linz, Austria. It was the largest conversation that the IFSR has hosted to-date, with 42 participants working in six teams. The topics on which the teams chose to focus spanned a wide range of systems concerns, from the philosophy of systems to the principles of the conversation itself. One team considered the future of cybernetics, and another continued work on applications and models in systems engineering. A fifth team continued work on “curating the conditions for the emergence of thrivable systems.” The sixth team addressed the issue of systems research—ranging from what systems research is to the method(s) that a legitimate systems research project should ideally follow.