2013/11 Editorial: Service Systems, Natural Systems -- Sciences in Synthesis


David Ing and Jennifer Wilby


Systems scientists are distinctive in a shared interest in synthesis. Synthesis means putting things together, rather than taking them apart. Synthesis leads to emergence: properties of a whole that are not in its parts. Advancing the systems sciences should include (i) sweeping in knowledge from worlds in which systems thinking has not been formally acknowledged and/or appreciated, and (ii) synthesizing those new world views with the multitude of perspectives that have persisted in the systems community, in a way that is authentic with the systems tradition.

Systems thinking enables a basic foundation across a wide variety of domains, including (i) man-made systems in social and informatic domains, and (ii) natural systems in geographic and biological domains. Focusing on the man-made world, the past decade has seen the rise of an emerging community centered on a new science of service systems. Focusing on the natural world, the past decade has seen the evolution of the community centered on ecological resilience science advance to social-ecological systems and declaration of the anthropocene. These changes in the man-made world and the natural world should not, however, be perceived as isolated phenomena.

The annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences is five-day event where members of the systems community synthesize their perspectives in intense face-to-face interaction in a different location each year. The encouragement for knowledge development takes place, however, on the scale of two years.


David Ing and Jennifer Wilby, "Editorial: Service Systems, Natural Systems -- Sciences in Synthesis", in Systems Research and Behavioral Science, Volume 30, Number 5, (October 2013) pp. 519-521.