Dr. John N. WarfieldSpecial Collections and Archives was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. John N. Warfield, a long time professor here at George Mason University. His career spanned an impressive number of fields, from electrical engineering and computer design, to philosophy, to his culminating work in Systems Science. Professor Warfield donated his collection of professional papers to Special Collections and Archives in 2000. The collection is extensive – 100 archival boxes of material – and selected portions can be found online at The John N. Warfield Digital Collection. Work is ongoing to select other important and interesting portions of the collection for digitization and online presentation.

On a personal note, I am disappointed not to have had the chance to meet Professor Warfield. I started work on his collection just two short weeks ago, and have only begun to wrap my head around the fascinating range of subjects he studied over the course of his long career. We are fortunate to have a considerable number of multimedia recordings of Professor Warfield, including oral history interviews, videos of his class lectures, and filmed sessions of his Interactive Management process. But I know that as I continue to work with his collection, I’ll have my own questions, and I had been looking forward to opening up lines of communication with the man behind the ideas.

Going forward, we have some exciting plans for further development of the online exhibition of Professor Warfield’s collection. His theories on complexity and systems design formulated gradually over decades of work, and the collection reveals how his cutting edge ideas took shape. We intend to construct a visually dynamic online exhibition that will showcase both the development of his philosophies, as well as their ongoing relevance to those interested in complexity and systems design.

Our condolences go out to his wife Rose and the entire Warfield family.

Dr. Warfield (upper right) and a colleague work on an early computer in the 1950's. (Source: The Pennsylvania State Engineering Review, Summer 1954)
Dr. Warfield (upper right) and a colleague work on an early computer in the 1950's. (Source: The Pennsylvania State Engineering Review, Summer 1954)

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8 thoughts on “The Passing of Dr. John N. Warfield, 84”

  1. Thank you for your kind words. I am John Warfields neice and I am very proud of him.
    Growing up as a child we always knew he was a very smart man. As an adult I got to travel with Uncle John and Aunt Rose.
    I always enjoyed talking with him. My mother Margaret Boston was his sister. We all miss him very much.

  2. John Warfield was a long time friend, philosopher and guide to me. I had first met him in 1988 at George Mason University USA when I had visited him on behalf of TCS India. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with him on some of his academic ventures including writing a contribution to his book “An Introduction to Systems Science” (World Scientific, Singapore, 2006). I had the pleasure of posting messages from and about John on the website of CIMI, and I can recall some of them for your quick reference, if it interests you:
    • “Message from Prof. Warfield on his (81st) Birthday” at http://www.cimi.in/News/index.asp?ID=40
    • “Prof. John Warfield” at http://www.cimi.in/Display/index.asp?ID=18
    • “Warfield’s An Introduction to Systems Science” at http://www.cimi.in/News/index.asp?ID=8

    May his soul rest in peace!

  3. John Warfield was an original and courageous thinker to whom I owe gratitude for placing my foot on the first rung of the academic ladder. John published my first paper in No. 1 Vol. 1 of Systems Research and, from that moment, I entered an new scene of life in academe. Intellectually, he towered over so many, but this was shaded by his innate modesty.

    I am proud to have known such a man and I am delighted that his thoughts as well as his memory are to be preserved for a posterity that will have much to learn from him.

  4. Prof. John Warfield was my mentor. I still vividly remember the time that Warfield taught me his philosophy at my office in South Africa. His humble approach to mentoring, attempting to convince me of the correct way of thinking, has warmly imprinted in my heart.

    In scores of correspondences with Warfield, I have learnt his rigorous attitude towards knowledge and soft approach to tutoring. His tenacity in ploughing knowledge is a role model in my academic endeavor.

    It is my honor to have known this great man. For me, his spirit did not perish. He has extended his life in my heart.

  5. I started interacting with Professor Warfield in 1980 after reading his book Societal Systems. His guidance and words of wisdom helped me a lot in my research and several other activities.
    His other books and research papers have enriched my thinking in many ways. Though we never met I feel he is with me to take on new professional challenges. I am sure all those who came in his contact must have similar feeling and inspiration.

  6. It is such a great loss to transdisciplinary community to lose a great scientist and researcher such as Professor Warfield. His rich body of work embodies analytical methods and frameworks, behavioral science and philosophies that formalize our understanding of complexity in our world. I know for me and many other people, the world will be a different place without him.

    Recently, The Academy of Transdisciplinary Learning and Advanced Studies (TheATLAS) Board decided to dedicate the Transdisciplinary Journal of Engineering & Science to honor Professor John Warfield.

  7. Message sent to Dan Warfield, 25th November 2009:

    I’m profoundly sorry to learn that John has passed away. I’ve been rather ill myself over the past few months (now recovering); I had not been opening Internet regularly – so only saw your very distressing message
    dated 20-Nov only today.

    It is truly a great loss to all of us who have followed him into his development of systems science – and obviously it is a far greater loss to all of you, his family. I only want to say at this time that I met him
    way back in 1979, and that his ideas and developments changed my life totally. (I do hope that I shall be able to properly launch the development of the ‘One Page Management System’ [OPMS], a system design tool inspired and created based on John’s uniquely powerful development of systems science – to which I believe the OPMS could contribute something).

    I had been promising over the past few years to visit him in the US – and now alas I shall not be able to meet him ever again.

    More later, when I recover a bit from this very sad news. (I would like very much to receive any information and coverage about John’s funeral that you may have collected).

    Warm regards
    Sag Chandy (GS Chandy)

  8. Addition to my earlier message:

    Others here could perhaps help with ideas on how to propagate John Warfield’s truly profound development of systems science. (I have a few such ideas, which I shall be happy to share on request).

    To the best of my understanding, ‘general systems theory’ actually became ‘systems science’ only through John’s seminal insights into complexity in systems and his developments of practical means to help people cope with that complexity.

    GSC

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