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The date of the 47th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS) in Crete in 2003 was coincident, to the very month, with the 25th anniversary of the launching of a major initiative in 'systems education' at Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Sydney, Australia. And this, it was deemed by a number of us who had participated in those initiatives at varying times and for various periods over the years, was reason enough for a symposium to be presented at the meeting, in celebration of our work together! An added rationale for such an event-within-the-event was the consonance of the conference themes--of 'conscious evolution' and of 'agora construction'--with much of what we believe has transpired at Hawkesbury over the past quarter century since the launch of those systemic initiatives.
Early in 2002, a group of us that included a number now living and working outside Australia thus decided to apply to the organizers of the Crete meeting, to present a symposium within the overall conference as a celebration of our 'lived experiences' together as a community of 'systemic scholar practitioners'. Through both words and deeds we hoped to share our experiences not just of 'working together' as academics concerned with systems theories and their applications as systems practices, but as co-participants 'being and belonging together' in a passionate endeavour that itself was consciously and deliberately systemic in nature. Furthermore, as we have so strongly embraced the experiential notion of learning-through-participation in our work together, so we would intend to present our symposium in experiential mode.
For some, there was a particular irony in selecting the notion of 'celebration' as the intention, for the actual curricula initiatives at Hawkesbury that we had all collectively worked on at one time or another had by now all but disappeared at that institution and been replaced by fairly conventional syllabi and traditional research agendas and activities. There were a wide variety …