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Ray Ison

Prof. Ray Ison

Professor Ray Ison is currently Visiting Professor in Uniwater, an interdisciplinary research hub of the Universities of Melbourne and Monash concerned with water-related research. His association with Uniwater is being consolidated through generation of joint research projects which bring European expertise and experience to bear on Australian issues. Ray has been Professor of Systems in the Systems Department at The Open University (UK) since January 1994. The Open University (OU) is the UK's largest university with c. 200,000 students, most of whom study at a distance. The OU, which began in 1969, pioneered supported open learning. It has an international reputation for its innovative and high quality pedagogy combined with a number of internationally rated research areas.

Upon joining the OU Ray found himself leading a process of organizational change resulting in the formation of the Centre for Complexity and Change within the Faculty of Technology. He was foundation Director of the Postgraduate Program in Environmental Decision Making and fostered the launch of the MSc in Information Systems in 2004. He is also foundation Director of the Open Systems Research Group comprising 20 researchers (see, with research foci on systems thinking and practice, information systems and sustainable development. In the period 2001-6 Ray secured in excess of £1.2 million in research funding. This came from four separate grants but mainly from the SLIM (Social Learning for the Integrated and Sustainable Use of Water at Catchment Scale) Fifth Framework Project (involving researchers from Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK) which he coordinated (2001-4). This in turn has led to c. £300,000 of further research funding from the Environment Agency (England and Wales).

Ray is also co-Director of SPMC (Systems Practice for Managing Complexity) Network, originally funded by the EPSRC, but which after three years has become self funding and has made significant contributions to formulating new research directions for Systems and for raising awareness of the role Systems practice can play in areas such as multi-stakeholder and multi-organisational situations, information systems, organizational change, project management, etc (see ). Ray's research involved developing and evaluating systemic, participatory and process-based environmental decision making, natural resource management, organizational change and R and D methodologies. The OU itself has committed about £1 million to the PERSSYST project, a joint initiative of the Systems and HR Departments and chaired by the OU Vice Chancellor, Professor Brenda Gourley, to develop systems thinking and practice skills for managing complexity throughout the OU.

Research themes discussed in his publications include second-order R&D; systemic inquiry, social learning, soft systems methodology, systemic action research; information systems; modeling; communities of practice and participatory institutional appraisal. He is the author or editor of three books, 16 book chapters, 45 refereed journal and 27 refereed conference papers and has been invited as keynote speaker at a range of conferences in Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, France, Germany, Ireland and Sweden. He is on the editorial board of three journals.

Innovation Climate Change Change Management Green Management Capacity Building Social Learning
Theoretical frameworks
Systemic Thinking Experiential Learning Futuring Participatory Leadership Action Learning Self Organisation
Practices and Traditions
Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) Viable Systems Model (VSM) Critical Systems Thinking (CST) Knowledge Managemnent
Tools and techniques
Concept Mapping TWOCAGES Modeling Wind Tunnelling
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