Rethinking agency—The 2022 agenda for the systems community

Klein, Louis; Buckle, Pamela; Nguyen, Nam; Preiser, Rika and Ison, Raymond (2021). Rethinking agency—The 2022 agenda for the systems community. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 38(6) pp. 717–720.



Five clusters of concern arising from IFSR-facilitated conversations with its organisational members are used to invite the broader systems community to rethink agency. It is argued that by addressing the cluster elements, potential will be co-created for the systems community as a whole to help citizens venture beyond failing responses to the global problematique and the Anthropocene-creating thinking in which we humans are trapped. The five clusters are as follows:

1. Exploring the in-between: Growing a shared understanding is going beyond a competition of ideas or a clash of concepts. It is a joint exploration of the unknown in-between.
2. Including the excluded: Systems research happens in open research ecosystems, not in disciplinary silos. It is transdisciplinary and constitutes a global discourse.
3. Living questions: Questions shape paradigms. Transcending paradigms starts from allowing the questions to have their own life, to grow and to dissolve, to improve and to transform.
4. Going beyond systems literacy: Learning to speak systems is one thing, proficiency in systems thinking, systems doing and systems being another. There is a difference between knowing and understanding that we may address as systems wisdom.
5. Rethinking agency: Agency goes from ego to eco, from me to we. Yet, it is not an either–or; it is ego and eco, me and we. To understand agency, we need to understand the ‘and’.

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