Peter Tuddenham’s Paper Proposal

Living in Cybernetics – connections to the Ocean and Earth

Over the past 15 years the organization I co-founded, the College of Exploration, has been engaged in work with many partners to establish the major principles and concepts that an ocean literate and an earth science literate person should know.
The work has encompassed scientists, educators and policy makers in extended conversations online and at face to face meetings. The result is a series of guides and websites to outline the consensus reached. A diverse group of partners from government, science, and education have worked together. These include NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NSF – the National Science Foundation, USGS the United States Geological Service, National Geographic, COSEE – the Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence, the Smithsonian, American Geological Union and many others.
My 40 years of experience in systems behavior and cybernetics across the nine traditions identified for this conference have contributed to the language, definitions and results of these efforts. This paper will describe the processes and approaches used to develop these two important contributions to ocean and earth science education. Explanations of the links to the traditions of cybernetics will be made where possible.
These efforts could serve as models for great levels of systems science literacy and cybernetic literacy in adults and students. Both subjects are not really taught in schools and the majority of populations have little knowledge about them and their potential to inform design, action and decision making in all aspects of life.
As we look back at 50 years of the ASC and forward to what ASC and the traditions of cybernetics offer, I will explore how the traditions might be weaved together in a tighter fabric to support the development of greater awareness, information, and action. I am always looking for patterns that connect. I believe the patterns of cybernetics could and should be explicitly more connected, and developed, in awareness and application in our everyday lives. With populations growing, sensors and technologies appearing rapidly and with ubiquity, patterns of nation states and cultures changing, people of the world becoming ever-more-connected, I think the former, current, and new members of ASC could and should make significant contributions to improving our world.

Cybernetic traditions:

  • 5) Education and conversation
  • 9) Social sciences

6 thoughts on “Peter Tuddenham’s Paper Proposal

  1. Candy

    I appreciate your work in putting cybernetics and systems science into practice, especially with a view to education. It would be great if you could elaborate a bit more on how you are currently aiming to achieve greater literacy in both fields – how do you teach cybernetics as a form of acting, compared to a body of textbook knowledge? I think this is crucial to keep cybernetics alive and developing.

    1. petertudd

      I do not teach cybernetics as a subject. I would like to. I use my knowledge and experience with cybernetics to design my leadership approach and to influence the actions of colleagues in ocean and earth science literacy efforts. So I teach cybernetics as a form of acting by acting as best I can in a way that reflects cybernetic approaches, ideas and “laws”.

  2. Ranulph Glanville

    I share exactly this arrangement: I don’t teach cybernetics (as a subject), but everything I teach is cybernetics. The cybernetics is in the background, but everywhere, ubiquitous. I am not sure if it is better this way.

    I do, however, reject the idea of application. Application exists in a power relationship, and power relationships are, in my view, anti-cybernetic. I look for essential equity in the relationship between theory and practice (understanding and acting, sophia and phronesis, as Aristotle had it), not for the perpetuation of what I take to be a fallacy, that theory is superior to practice.

  3. petertudd

    I would like to think that in huge end it is what we do that matters most. But perhaps in the spirit of equity and harmony that theory and practice are just as important.
    There is doubt that knowing the the theories of cybernetics has informed my practice. I think if I had to stop my colleagues before we acted and say wait a minute you need to know the cybernetic theory before we can proceed it might disrupt the show. so now it is more for me to offer a reflection of the experience through a cybernetic lens, and so therefore to inform my colleagues on what I had in mind as I gently suggested directions and actions. Come to the talk on Monday!
    I think my approach reflects my fares pragmatism to problem solving as a doctor, professing that it was both science and art, and his love of crafting things in wood, which I do from time to time. Also I was introduced to systems behavior through the open university course t241 which was focused on understanding actual events, practices, industries, ecologists, by observing, and practical hands on 3d models and kit constructions?. The ou course also included a highly personal and group social process of problem identification, description and modeling in a week long course in the summer, with both hard and soft systems approaches.

    My more concentrated intro to cybernetics was with support from bill Reckmeyer and the San Jose program. We again were immediately practical using john warfields work on group brainstorming and decision making as an intervention in a Fortune 500 communication and relational system. We went on from there to use Beers VSM as a way to look at behaviors and to structure computer supported record keeping, monitoring and relationship building.

  4. petertudd

    Randolph, say more about “application”. Are you implying I am applying cybernetics and therefore establishing some kind of surreptitious power dynamic?


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