, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 559-586

Appreciating Systems: Critical Reflections on the Changing Nature of Systems as a Discipline in a Systems-Learning Society

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The paper reports a reflective inquiry into the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of systems-related courses developed and presented up to 1995 by the former Systems Department in the Open University, UK. The SWOT analysis is considered in the context of the "systems movement" in its broadest sense. Based on the OU experiences the institutional challenges of systems-as-discipline and interdiscipline are explored. Three strategies for the future are suggested: (i) the potential of Systems Departments to demonstrate rigorous and coherent interdisciplinarity; (ii) for systemists to work harder to bridge the divide between their espoused theory and theory in use, particularly in their own institutional settings and (iii) the need for a rigorous pedagogy for "systems practice."