Complexity or Control?

Paradigms for Sustainable Development

Ideas about sustainable development are still largely guided by an ideal of control even though the limits and difficulties of our current “culture of control” have been obvious for some time. The remnants of this view threaten to undermine the very notion of sustainability, which in turn is fueled by scenarios of destruction characteristic for the Anthropocene. Alternatives to this “anthropocenic or cybernetic illusion,” such as co-evolutionary processes within complex adaptive systems or transdisciplinary conceptions of sustainability exist, but have yet to gain widespread acceptance.

This project will study the history of current ideas about sustainability and sustainability science, focusing on the interrelated histories of cybernetics, complex systems theory and sustainability, in order to further develop epistemological and methodological foundations for transdisciplinary sustainability science to substantially contribute to sustainable development. Two of its research areas are led by members of the Centre for Digital Cultures:

“Complexity or Control?” is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung, via the “Science for sustainable development” call, and hosted by Leuphana University of Lüneburg.

For further information, please visit the website of the project: