Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Indiana University East
Biographical Info: I was introduced to cybernetics as an undergraduate electrical engineering student. I found it fun, and still do. Then, during work on master’s degrees in systems and management, I came to appreciate the possibilities of the ideas of cybernetics for the more serious endeavor of understanding social, political and economic systems. When I was exploring doctoral programs, I looked specifically for those that had options for studying cybernetics in the context of human cognition and society. I chose a program in Operations Research at the University of Pennsylvania and studied with Klaus Krippendorff (who had studied with Ross Ashby, the author of the book that originally interested me in cybernetics) and Shiv Gupta (who had studied with Russell Ackoff, also one of my teachers). My interests became, and remain today: decision making, particularly policy decisions; social transformation and design, with a focus on dialogic process and participation; and, the arts, technology and society. Conversations with Herbert Brun and Gordon Pask in subsequent years were particular influential in my thinking. I now regard cybernetics as “a way of thinking about ways of thinking (of which it–cybernetics–is one)”, opening the possibility for making the way of thinking a choice (hence, taking responsibility for it). I experiment with the idea of the cybernetician as a craftsperson in and with time, a label to which I aspire but do not yet claim. I have enjoyed time and conversations with many colleagues and students at Colby College (Maine), Old Dominion University (Virginia), Bridgewater State University (Massachusetts), Indiana University East (where I am currently employed), and the School for Designing a Society (Illinois). It is in these schools that I have practiced as an educator, administrator and provocateur, and with these people that cybernetics has come alive for me; I owe them more than I can express. I look forward to talking about “A History of the History of Cybernetics” at the 2014 ASC conference, and discussing the implications for our ever-changing present.