Section 4: TRACK 3

Systems Theory, Complexity Theory, and Radical Emergence

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Track 3: Systems Theory, Complexity, and Radical Emergence

Short description: Systems theory, complexity theory, and emergence help biologists to understand the evolution of radical novelty. Together they stretch traditional conceptions of science. This working group begins with the groundbreaking contributions of Stuart Kauffman, who will be present. We examine these important resources in the biological sciences and the new vision of the biosphere that they are producing.

Track Heads

Dongping Fan


Dongping Fan, Ph.D, is a professor of Philosophy of Science and the Dean of the School of Public Administration at South China Normal University. She specializes in philosophy of science, systems thinking and methodology. She also teaches graduate courses in philosophy of science, systems management, philosophical thinking and social justice. Dongping Fan has published over 50 articles and several books.

Dongping Fan has received many distinguished grants and awards in her distinguished career. She has had the honor of being the representative of The 12th National People’s Congress. She has also been selected by the National New Century Talents Project, and Supporting Project for educational ministry. Dongping Fan was honored with a grant from the National Social Science Fund Project. In the Guangdong Province of China, she was recognized as a Pearl River Scholar and a distinguished professor.

In addition to serving as Professor and Dean of the School of Public Administration at South China Normal University, Dr. Dongping is also the Director of Systems Science and Systems Management Research Center. This is the key university research center of humanities & social sciences in the Guangdong Province.

She has the honor of serving as Vice Chairman of China Natural Dialectics Research Association Academic Committee, Vice Chairman and Secretary-General of China Complexity and Philosophy of System Science Committee, and Vice Director of the Research Center for Process Philosophy and System Management at South China Normal University. Dr. Dongping though very busy finds time to serve as the Associate editor of the Chinese Journal of Systems Science.

Website | Wikipedia | LinkedIn

Stuart Kauffman

Professor of Biological Sciences, Physics, and Astronomy, University of Calgary

Stuart Kauffman is a professor at the University of Calgary with a shared appointment between biological sciences and physics and astronomy. He is also the leader of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics (IBI) which conducts leading-edge interdisciplinary research in systems biology. Dr. Kauffman is also an emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Originally a medical doctor, Dr. Kauffman’s primary work has been as a theoretical biologist studying the origin of life and molecular organization. Thirty-five years ago, he developed the Kauffman models, which are random networks exhibiting a kind of self-organization that he terms “”order for free.”” Dr. Kauffman was the founding general partner and chief scientific officer of The Bios Group, a company (acquired in 2003 by NuTech Solutions) that applies the science of complexity to business management problems. He is the author of The Origins of Order , At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization , Investigations and Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion .

Michael Dowd

Reverend, or just Michael

Michael Dowd is a bestselling evolutionary theologian and pro-future evangelist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally.  His bridge-building book, Thank God for Evolution, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists, noted skeptics, and by religious leadersacross the spectrum.  Michael and his science-writer wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to nearly two thousand groups across North America since 2002.

Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations.  In 2010 he interviewed 38 Christian leaders across the theological spectrum, all of whom embrace an ecological, evolutionary worldview and are committed to a healthy future, as part of a series, titled, “The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity.”  Most recently, he interviewed 55 experts on climate change, peak oil, and sustainability, as part of an online conversation series, titled,The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness.

Dowd’s passion for proclaiming a pro-science message of inspiration — what he calls “the Gospel of Right Relationship to Reality” — has earned him the moniker ‘Reverend Reality,’ as he speaks prophetically in secular and religious settings alike about the intergenerational evil of anti-future policies and institutions and the absolute necessity of co-creating a global ecological civilization.
The Great Story

Postings from Seizing an Alternative

Michael Dowd – Sacred Side of Science

Suggested Resources

Links to Section-related books and media for pre-conference preparation include:

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