02 March 2017

The Power of Systems - a new book on IIASA

In The Power of Systems: How Policy Sciences Opened Up the Cold War World, Dr. Egle Rindzeviciute introduces readers to one of the best-kept secrets of the Cold War: the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Egle Rindzeviciute recently published a book on the history of IIASA. "In my doctoral research I was exploring the impact of cybernetics and the systems approach on public policy and governmental imagination in the Soviet Union in the 1960s-1980s, when I stumbled across IIASA," states Rindzeviciute. "Being intrigued to find out more about this unexpected East-West cooperation, I was overjoyed to discover that the institute was not only alive and very well, but that it also had an archive, accessible to researchers. While a postdoctoral scholarship from Handelsbanken in Sweden enabled me to benefit from generosity of IIASA's staff who opened up the archives for me, I was later lucky to situate my IIASA study in the context of an international project studying transformations of anticipatory governance at Sciences Po in Paris. This book, therefore, is a result of a truly international and interdisciplinary journey."

Book description:

From 1972 until the late 1980s IIASA in Austria was one of the very few permanent platforms where policy scientists from both sides of the Cold War divide could work together to articulate and solve world problems. This think tank was a rare zone of freedom, communication, and negotiation, where leading Soviet scientists could try out their innovative ideas, benefit from access to Western literature, and develop social networks, thus paving the way for some of the key science and policy breakthroughs of the twentieth 


Ambitious diplomatic, scientific, and organizational strategies were employed to make this arena for cooperation work for global change. Under the umbrella of the systems approach, East-West scientists co-produced computer simulations of the long-term world future and the anthropogenic impact on the environment, using global modeling to explore the possible effects of climate change and nuclear winter. Their concern with global issues also became a vehicle for transformation inside the Soviet Union. The book shows how computer modeling,  cybernetics, and the systems approach challenged Soviet governance by undermining the linear notions of control on which Soviet governance was based and creating new objects and techniques of government. 

Find out how you can buy the book and support IIASA at the same time on smile.amazon.com or smile.amazon.de.

Egle Rindzeviciute is a Lecturer in Sociology at Kingston University, London. She is the author of Constructing Soviet Cultural Policy: Cybernetics and Governance in Lithuania after World War II and coeditor of The Struggle for the Long-Term in Transnational Science and Politics: Forging the Future.

Dr. Rindzeviciute's current research projects involve the historical sociology of Cold War governance with a particular focus on predictive expertise, which is a continuation of her work at Sciences Po, and a new study on how high-risk technologies, such as nuclear energy, are constructed as a national heritage in Russia and the UK. The latter projects are funded by the Baltic Sea Foundation, Sweden (2015-2017) and the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (2018-2020). In addition to this, she continues her research into cultural policy.

From 2016, Dr. Rindzeviciute convenes the public debate series "Brexit Futures" (#BrexitFutures) at Kingston University.

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Last edited: 06 March 2017


Egle Rindzeviciute

Lecturer, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Kingston University



Michaela Rossini

Manager Library and Knowledge Resources Library and Knowledge Resources Unit

The Power of Systems on Amazon

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313