2009, pp 87-95

Howard Odum

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This is a tale of two brothers, Howard and Eugene Odum, and how they introduced ideas from general systems theory and cybernetics into the field of ecology, in the process coming to dominate ecology as an academic discipline for decades. While both drew on systems ideas, our focus is on the younger brother, Howard, as it was he who more explicitly brought these ideas into ecology and was more closely aligned with systems organisations. The importance of the Odum brothers' contribution has been summed up by a former student of Howard's, who wrote that they “were not only among the first to educate generations of scholars and the public about ecology but also pioneers in uniting the human and social aspects of environmental issues with their ecological and natural dimensions” (Gunderson et al. 2002).