Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Program Director, MA Organization Development
Ph.D., History of Science, 1997
University of California, Berkeley
Voicemail: (707) 664-3179
Office: Carson Hall 59
Professional and Personal Interests
Coming of age during the Vietnam War era, I struggled to avoid becoming a cog in the "system," and subsequently spent half of my graduate career studying "systems theory," exploring ways of thinking about complex systems that might support more participatory and inclusive forms of social organization. In addition to my work in the history of science, focusing on the history of systems thinking, I worked with Carolyn Merchant and other professors in the Conservation and Resource Studies program at Berkeley as a graduate teaching instructor, teaching courses in ecosystemology and environmental history, philosophy and ethics, which allowed me to pursue my interests sustainability and social justice.
After completing my dissertation, I joined the Hutchins faculty in 1997, serving as Hutchins Provost from 2001-2004. I was delighted to discover the Hutchins program, as the interdisciplinary, seminar-based pedagogy resonated with my own philosophy of education. It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with faculty from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives. Beginning in 2009, I have been working with Saul Eisen to take over the role of faculty coordinator for Sonoma State's Organization Development MA program, which integrates the interactive approach to learning and practice so central to the Hutchins orientation with my own passion for systems thinking and organizational transformation.
Growing out of my on-going involvement with the International Society for the Systems Sciences, I was elected to serve as the 2005-2006 President and hosted the 50th anniversary conference at Sonoma State University, July 9-14, 2006. My book on the history of systems thinking, The Science of Synthesis: Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory (2003/2010), documents a unique episode in the history of modern thought that remains relevant for our times. It examines the origins of systems thinking in such fields as engineering, management, organismic biology, cybernetics, information, ecology and social theory, and discusses the work of the founders of the Society for General Systems Theory, including Ludwig von Bertalanffy, Kenneth Boulding, Ralph Gerard, James Grier Miller, and Anatol Rapoport.
Selected Course Offerings
- LIBS 201: Exploring the Unknown
- LIBS 202: Challenge & Response in the Modern World
- LIBS 302: Introduction To Liberal Studies
- LIBS 320A: Money Matters
- LIBS 320B: The Global Food Web
- LIBS 320B: Health and Healing
The Science of Synthesis: Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory, (Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado, 2003, paperback edition 2010).
“Cultivating Healthy Habits: Food, Gardens, and Community-Based Learning,” in A. Pelham and E. Sills, eds., Promoting Health and Wellness in Underserved Communities, Service Learning for Community Engagement Series (Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 2010).
Guest Editor, Complexity, Democracy and Sustainability, Special Issue of Systems Research and Behavioral Science, featuring selected papers from 50th annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences, 2008.
Gigch, ed., Wisdom, Knowledge, and Management: A Critique and Analysis of Churchman's Systems Approach Series: C. West Churchman's Legacy and Related Works, Vol. 2 (New York: Springer, 2006).
“The Life and Work of James Grier Miller” (primary author, with Jennifer Wilby), Systems Research and Behavioral Science 23 (2006).
“Reflections on the Role of Dialogue in Education and Community Building,” Systems Research and Behavioral Science 21 (Bela H. Banathy Festschrift, 2004).
“Ecopsychology,” in S. Krech, J.R. McNeill, and C. Merchant, eds., Encyclopedia of World Environmental History (New York: Routledge, 2004).