Dr. Stuart Umpleby is a professor emeritus in the Department of Management and Director of the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning in the School of Business at The George Washington University. He received degrees in engineering, political science, and communications from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. From 1975 to the present he has been a professor at The George Washington University. From 1994 to 1997 he was the faculty facilitator of the Quality and Innovation Initiative in the GW School of Business and Public Management. From 1997 to 2000 he worked on the Year 2000 Computer Crisis, viewing it as an opportunity to test social science theories using a before and after research design. He teaches courses in the philosophy of science, cross-cultural management, organizational behavior, cybernetics, and systems science. Other interests include process improvement methods, group facilitation methods, and the use of computer networks.
Umpleby has published articles in Science, Policy Sciences, Population and Environment, Science Communication, The Futurist, Futures, World Futures, The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Simulation and Games, Business and Society Review, Journal of International Business and Economics, Review of Business Research, Telecommunications Policy, Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Reflexive Control, Systems Practice, Kybernetes, Cybernetics and Human Knowing, Cybernetics and Systems and several foreign language journals. He is a past president of the American Society for Cybernetics. He is Associate Editor of the journal Cybernetics and Systems.
Umpleby has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Central Asia Research Initiative. He has consulted with the World Bank, with government agencies in the U.S. and Canada and with corporations in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China. He has advised on the creation of a PhD program in management and business in Almaty, Kazakhstan. In May 2008 he conducted a video conference on "How to do Research" with Uzbek scholars at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent.
In connection with his work in systems theory and management, he has been a guest scholar at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, the University of Vienna, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, Austria, and the University of St. Gallen in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is a member of the Principia Cybernetica Project at the Free University of Brussels. In spring 2004 he was a Fulbright Scholar in the School of Economics and Business, University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Between 1981 and 1988 Umpleby was the American coordinator of a series of meetings between American and Russian scientists to discuss the foundations of cybernetics and systems theory. These meetings were supported by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the International Research and Exchanges Board of the American Council of Learned Societies. His interest in the transitions in the post-communist countries has resulted in his presenting lectures at various institutes of the Academies of Science of Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria.He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Cybernetics, the Austrian Society for Cybernetic Studies, the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, and the International Society for the Systems Sciences.
In the 1960s the Institute of Cultural Affairs, based in Chicago, Illinois, started working with poor communities, helping people come together to work for positive change. They developed some very useful methods for facilitating group conversations. They used these in poor communities around the world. They would come together each summer to discuss what worked and what did not. They would modify their methods, plan the next year's activities, implement the activities, then come together the following summer to discuss what worked, etc. Academics do something similar with annual conferences, but they are more focused on publishing academic articles than on improving the lives of real people in real communities. For examples of such conversational exercises, see www.gwu.edu/~umpleby/ptp.html
Part of the motivation for defining and creating second order science is to recognize and increase innovative, problem-solving oriented social actions, often conducted by Non-Governmental Organizations. Currently universities have large numbers of students and faculty members seeking to advance knowledge in the social sciences, using a conception of social science taken from the physical sciences. But social systems are composed of purposeful, thinking participants, not inanimate objects. Perhaps in addition to searching for reliable cause and effect relationships part of what is called social science could be devoted to developing conversational methods that aid joint action toward shared goals. If this goal were be accepted within the social sciences in universities there would be a great increase in the number of people working to improve social systems and developing more effective conversational methods.