General Systems Essentials: An Introductory Course for a Modern Generalist Curriculum


  • Vincent Vesterby


systems curriculum, modern generalist, general systems, deep structure, connectivity


General Systems Essentials is a course designed to serve as the introductory course for a Modern Generalist Curriculum leading to a doctoral degree in Modern Generalist Understanding. Because the course presents deep understanding of many factors of systems origins, structures, and processes, it is appropriate for anyone interested in studying systems science.


Ever since the advent of science and the consequent ever increasing body of new knowledge, it has been impossible to be a generalist in the traditional sense of quantity of knowledge. Becoming a specialist, whatever the degree of focus, was the only option.


It is now possible to become a generalist—not in the traditional manner of quantity and extent of knowledge, but in a new manner, based on quality and extent of understanding. The modern generalist mode is possible because it is a discipline-independent mode based on developments from general systems theory.


The course provides a practical introduction to the breadth and depth of the modern generalist mode by leading the student to an understanding of three universal aspects of the intrinsic nature of all that exists. (1) General factors are a more general form of general systems principles and isomorphies. (2) Structural logic is the way in which the intrinsic qualities of something that exists determine the kinds relations it can have with other things that exist. (3) Development is the sequential order of relations between things that exist, throughout space and structure, throughout time and process.


These three exist in reality as patterns of organization of space, time, and matter, and the modern generalist uses these patterns as conceptual tools of exploration, analysis, understanding, and description. Thus, the thinking within the mind matches the reality referents of that which is thought about, resulting in a high degree of objective understanding.


The modern generalist mode of exploration, analysis, understanding, and description has many benefits for understanding systems in any discipline. It enhances the ability to identify general patterns among multiple levels and disciplines through understanding the deep-structure of such patterns. It displays the interconnectedness between and within all the levels through the use of the general factors that play roles of connectivity between and within the subjects studied by the various disciplines. This generalist mode makes it possible to understand change in diverse systems and in their environments through the use of the general factors that form the bases of all forms of change. It enables critical reasoning at multiple levels through the use of the structural logic inherent in general factors and their interrelations. It enables integration of multidiscipline knowledge through the use of the general factor development, the universal general factor of connectivity. Using this method enables general holistic understanding through the use of those general factors that provide unity, depth, and breadth of understanding. Discipline-independent understanding can be achieved through the use of general factors whose core patterns of organization are independent of level of organization.


The modern generalist mode does not simplify complexity, but rather accepts it as is, gains access to the complexity by way of known general factors, observes what other factors are there playing roles of structure and process, and in that way achieves understanding of the intrinsic nature of the complexity.



How to Cite

Vesterby, V. (2010). General Systems Essentials: An Introductory Course for a Modern Generalist Curriculum. Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, 54(1). Retrieved from