Behind the Scenes: Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science

We would like to introduce you to our partner and main organizer of the 2012 meetings and provide you with some background information:

Realising the global challenges of today and the resulting need for systems theory in 2004, the BCSSS was founded with the aim to inspire the development of systems science. The Center works to advance scientific research in the field of systems thinking and by doing so, revisits General System Theory (GST) as founded by Ludwig von Bertalanffy and others. The focus is the reassessment of the theory in the light of today’s global challenges and to illuminate the course of development systems science has taken since. The Research Center cooperates with every person or organisation supporting the same aim. It also owns the Ludwig von Bertalanffy archive and possesses a collection of publications of the systems movement.

“Unity through Diversity”


  • administrates the archive of Ludwig von Bertalanffy and makes it open to the public.
  • administrates also other collections which are of interest to the systems movement.
  • carries out and supports research projects in the field of systems sciences.
  • carries out and supports scientific activities like lectures, workshops, conferences and international co-operations of scientists interested in General System Theory and related fields.


Meet Wolfgang Hofkirchner, President of BCSSS:

1. What does the Bertalanffy Center mean to you?

I see the Bertalanffy Center as one of the means for strengthening international cooperation between those different strands of the systems movement that have developed so far. The problem is that sometimes approaches lost their ability to communicate and to connect to other schools of thought. And often non-systemic scientists and the public don’t see the added value of thinking in a systemic way. The Bertalanffy Center will try to help make evident that the global challenges of today – the crises we face in the world we’re living in – need systemic handling. And for that reason we have to recollect the common foundations of, say, social cybernetics, robotics, systems biology, system dynamics, agent-based modelling, complex systems, radical constructivism and so on, as well as to deliberate on what are the specific strengths of those threads are.

2. Why should other people show interest in the BCSSS? What will they experience or learn?

The BCSSS wants to become a platform for the exchange between representatives of different schools and disciplines and the public. We are the owner of the estate of Ludwig von Bertalanffy who sometimes is called the founder of general system theory. We have got letters and files and manuscripts and tapes and film material that wait for being exploited. I learned already much from reading Bertalanffy in original. I learned new facets of understanding. It’s really striking how up-to-date ideas got buried and how ideas need to get excavated as they are topical today!

3. What is your current position or responsibility with the BCSSS?

I’m the so-called president. I’m elected for the period until end of calendar year 2013.

Please also visit Wolfgang Hofkirchner’s blog, where you can find out more about him, his background as well as research.

Tagged with: , , , ,