An Invitation to Structured Deliberations promoting Systems Literacy

This participatory preview of a presentation at the Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies is for people interested in dialogue processes, systems science, science pedagogy, and addressing our problems in ecosystems and their intersection with sociotechnical systems. It will be held Saturday, September 19th at 12PM noon EST (New York Time.) The conference is next week.

Dr. Thomas Flanagan will be handling the Zoom logistics. His contact is:, or as backup . Please contact him with any difficulties. I will not be looking at email nor be able to assist with on-ramping.

Your name is included because you are in the network of people that have been involved in discussing this application over the past year. That said we know we are missing a lot of people which we would like to invite. So, if you think of anyone that would be interested in this topic, please extend an invitation on our behalf. This is an opportunity to have input and critique – prior to the conference presentation.

The intent of the presentation next week is to further expand the network – especially beyond those whose primary orientation is already systems science.

Current invitees include

 – Practitioners, appreciators, and prospective and former participants in Structured Dialogue (also known as Structured Dialogic Design, Structured Democrartic Dialogue, the CogniScope, LogoSophia, Interactive Management and Interpretive Structural Modeling.)

– People interested in Systems Science in general, in education, and in specific contexts such as ecosystems, ocean systems, earth systems, forest systems, agriculture & food systems, sociotechnical systems…) and in the near term – understanding and cultivating a response to the pandemic

 – People interested in Next Generation Science Standards in education.

 – And people involved in previous literacy initiatives – such as Ocean Science Literacy and Earth Science Literacy.

For the last few years the Structural Modeling Group, which meets online the First Saturdays of the month, founded circa 2014, by Mary and Joe Simpson, have been hosting online meetings regarding past and future applications of Structural Modeling on the third Saturdays of the month. It is made up of members of the ISSS, INCOSE and the IFSR.

This is an agenda for this Saturday September 19, 12-1 or 2 EST to go over the presentation of an invitation at the HSSS concerning the planning and involvement in a large-scale application of tech-supported deliberations promoting systems literacy.

You are invited to comment and add to this brief prior to the meeting. Tom will send out the invitations and handle the Zoom call – contact him if you have a problem. 

We expect this will go for one to two hours. But, we invite you to drop in and exit as you can. Our primary goal is touching base because many of us in this community of practice have not been in contact for a long time. This project was brought to us by Peter Tuddenham, former president of the International Systems Science Society. I feel it is a worthwhile initiative around which to gather.


“An Invitation to Deliberate on Systems Literacy in K-12 Science Pedagogy” has already been accepted for presentation at the 16th National & International Conference of the Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies (HSSS) with subject: “Effective Management of Public and Private Organizations through Systemics and Technologies” which will take place (online) at the University of Peloponnese in Tripoli, GREECE on 24-26 September 2020 ( We have one week from today to outline this invitation for involvement in this project. There is no charge to participate online. There is nothing like an impending deadline to quicken one’s resolve to articulate a project. This is an intentionally shocking contrast to the care we took to open ourselves to wide-ranging consideration of the scope of inquiry over the past year on this important project, critical to the future of humanity and the planet. Note – we are not outlining the project. We are extending an invitation to participate in the project at the formative stage. A sketch is included below.

This presentation at HSSS will not present an outline or architecture of the project. It will reflect on the “inviting process” in the context of a specific invitation to involvement in the deliberations on Systems Literacy in K-12 Pedagogy. And hopefully, we will expand our network of involvement.

What we present should address our distinction regarding the difference between the classic roles of ‘sponsors, client, and brokers’, to emergent notions of “brokering as process,  participants as brokers, distributed clients, clients as co-producers (invoking a movie producer metaphor), and the new role of impresarios networking sponsors (invoking the personae of Diaghilev whom moved through multiple media of poetry, painting, music choreography and dance, theater, and the attending networks cultivating support for productions and happenings.)

 We should distinguish the implications of different modes of stakeholder identification and participant recruitment. There is literature going back to the1960’s & 70’s concerning the change in orientation from ‘shareholders’ to ‘stakeholders’ and how to analyze the nature of their roles, relationships and prospective impact in the project and challenges in engaging them in the context of a deliberation. Yet, there are few SDD projects in which these tools have been employed. I did one in Cyprus that did, we did one at AFRL that did, and Tom and I taught a graduate class in Stakeholders in the Creative Economy that employed tools for doing it.

There are also well developed techniques for sampling (random, public announcements and self-selection, survey research techniques, and deliberative polling) and search procedures (ie. snow-ball search, co-citation analysis, and Centrality Metrics in Social Network Analyis) which can supplant the previously dominant mode of a person(s) of expertise or authority identifying the ‘key players’ which can complement the stakeholder id techniques. 

We should list our current candidate techniques for ensuring a requisite variety of perspectives such as Peter J.’s and Kirk’s work with Latour’s Modes of  Existence and my work on an Architectonics of Inquiry.

We should offer reflections on previous framings and dialogue of the Systems Literacy, the need for context specific approaches, its role in international alignment of Next Generation Science Standards, and the need for outreach to educators, policy makers and others which are not systems scientists.

We should briefly indicate a starting portfolio of methodologies tools which will be employed at the start. ie., SDD in conjunction with Syntegration…and Ideaprism in connection with the Warfield/Christakis/Laouris/Simpson branch of structural modeling.

We should consider reflective, systems models of the initiative itself such as Beer’s VSM.

We should invite critique of the deployment of systems thinking and it’s language from the perspective of post-colonial studies as potentially untoward colonization of the life-world of non-western peoples, the value of constructivist  approaches not only as a fruitful approach in developmental psychology and education but as a guard against the use / or unintended consequence of the deployment of pedagogy as a means of oppression. Indeed, we call into question whether the notion of literacy itself is the appropriate metaphor as it is writing-centric and can be exclusionary to oral cultures and indigenous knowledge.

We intend to record this session and hopefully transcribe it through Machine Learning.

END NOTE concerning The Community of Practice for Users/Applications of Structural Modeling. In contrast to the first Saturday of the month meetings, which are focused on development of Open Source Software for Basic Structural Modeling the Third Saturday of the month meeting concerns case studies of applications of structural modeling and future applications in new regimes such as online versus face-to-face or mobile. A key finding of the original research on Communities of Practice by Etienne Wenger is that consistent pace of interaction is one of the primary keys to a successful Community of Practice. So, from here on, please always assume there is an online meeting every month on applications. In the application domain methodologies which employ Structural Modeling are referred to under various names such as Structured Dialogue, Structure Dialogic Design, Structured Democratic Dialogue, Interactive Management, The CogniScope, and Interpretive Structural Modeling. Some of these are involved in trademarks and intellectual property. I titled this agenda as Structured Deliberations to avoid confusion with particular methods and software and also reflect the turn to the emergent influence of political science in the methodologies which have been lacking in previous decades of the underlying theory and methodology. Practitioners also tend to confuse, or use interchangeably, the names of particular practices or differently trademarked names of the same methodology with the name of the structural modeling software they employ. Please be careful about that.

Kevin Dye

On October 10th 2020 Kevin presented to the International Society for the Systems Sciences a slightly revised version of his presentation to the Hellenic Society for Systemic Studies.