Metaphorum Conference: Viability through emancipation - or the hidden agenda of viability

Jun 8, 2023 at 09:00 — Jun 10, 2023 at 21:59 (BST)

If you have any questions about this event, please contact the organizers at rather than using the 'Contact Organiser' link above.

(20 years after Stafford’s passing)

Emancipation is an important landmark of progress in our social systems. The challenge is how to set ourselves free and yet maintain our relationships to work together effectively and bring about the systemic changes we so urgently need. For us to truly emancipate ourselves and flourish, we also need to be viable - individually and collectively. Viability is the capacity to have and maintain an autonomous, conscious, responsible, and independent existence. Emancipation implies a need to rethink the intended purpose of human organisation - to define new adaptive pathways towards a flourishing future for all.

In our conference, we seek to review how Beer’s original ideas, among other systems approaches, offer clear criteria and tools to facilitate emancipatory systemic changes. We also invite people to reflect on the barriers and obstacles to emancipation and systemic change. Thus, we welcome presentations and workshops that explore:

The notion of emancipation emerges from individual and collective changes in cognition, awareness, and perception, and is an engine for viability.

  • The notion of viability is the capacity to continue existing - or to cease to exist in a given moment of time. This contributes to the ultimate goal of preserving the integrity of the ecosystems and communities to which we belong and with which we co-evolve.
  • The barriers to emancipation as they have been experienced and understood in different interventions - as well as a reflection on how to overcome them.
  • The notions of co-evolution and perpetual change - hence the need for requisite experimentation as a core strategy for viability and resilience.
  • The characteristics of systemic change, and ways of designing experiments to promote intentional transitions.
  • The unpredictable and surprising routes through which systemic innovations proliferate over time.
  • Examples of applications of a range of approaches aimed at facilitating systemic change in different organisational contexts.
  • Experiences of seeds of change sown in the past, which contributed to the awakening of consciousness and desire for change, and over time produced new systems configurations.
  • The need to revisit the toolbox for viability - Beer’s visionary theories and tools for the development of more robust and resilient self-governing systems.
  • Open research paths for further developing the viability theory to support emancipatory systemic change.



Conference dates: 08 - 10 June 2023

Register by: 01 June 2023


Abstract and workshop submission by 10 May 2023.

Confirmation of acceptance two weeks after submission.

Abstract guidelines:

The abstract must be a maximum of 200 words. It should explain the topic and focus of the talk, the theory/and or methodology and tools used and the key lessons learned.

A workshop proposal must be a maximum of 300 words and should specify the topic, methodology, expected outcome, number of participants, time (maximum of 90 minutes), space and equipment required.

Papers will be included in a special issue of a systems journal.

An up-to-date version of the programme can be found here:

We also want to invite speakers who wish to publish their work after having feedback from the conference’s participants, to consider participating in one of the following special issues that members of the Steering Committee are co-editing. Authors will have time until September/November 2023 to submit a full paper. The papers will be reviewed following the review process in each one of the journals:

  1. Systemic Practice and Action Research

We are planning a special issue with SPAR, on the topic of our conference ‘Viability through emancipation (or the hidden agenda of viability)’, with the best papers from the conference. The deadline for submission of a full paper will be September the 15th 2023.

  1. Frontiers in Sustainability

If you are interested in submitting a paper to this special issue, the deadline for submission of abstracts is 15th September 2023 and the deadline for submission of manuscripts is 15th November 2023.


Read More

Ticket Price Quantity
Standard £150.00 (No booking fee)
Early bird - until April 10th £125.00 (No booking fee) Sold Out
Student £100.00 (No booking fee)
Single day £70.00 (No booking fee)
Secured with SSL