From Complex Systems to Transdisciplinarity

Exploring Resilience, Sustainability, and Knowledge Integration

Edited by:
Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría, New York Academy of Sciences

Published 2024

The authors in this book analyze resilience and sustainability in seven different complex adaptive systems (human beings, megaprojects, higher education, food systems, climate change, healthcare settings and cities) by highlighting transitions from complexity to transdisciplinarity as a strategy for knowledge integration.

The book provides insights about the nature of complex adaptive systems based on the cases studied, in particular the issue of second order cybernetics (associated to the mind-matter problematic), the role of entropy in complex systems and the importance of the notion of reflexivity in the current cognitive-reflexive stage in world capitalism. In this way, the book aims at contributing to current debates and objections about the validity of traditional ontological and epistemological positions in the face of radical and rapid transformations worldwide affecting some aspects of capitalist development. The Conclusions explore how complex sustainability needs to integrate several elements beyond the conventional view expressed in the standard, anthropocentric definition of sustainability. The contributions in this book are important for anyone interested in meaningfully designing research on resilience and sustainability that uses complexity and transdisciplinary perspectives and frameworks.


"This volume, edited and co-authored by Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría, is an important book for our times. It illustrates the necessity of utilizing transdisciplinary approaches to address the unremitting onslaught of environmental disasters in the post-COVID era. It serves as an essential primer for understanding the critical intersections between complexity, sustainability, and resilience. Readers will undoubtedly become more reflective about their own inquiries as they learn how scholars from different fields integrate knowledge to offer innovative and meticulously researched insights regarding many of today’s most pressing global issues." — Tanya Augsburg, San Francisco State University

"From Complex Systems to Transdisciplinarity, edited and co-authored by Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría, takes resilience and sustainability to center stage, and brings to the fore the limits of individual disciplines in understanding the intricacies of nature, ecology and capitalism as it applies to seven complex systems. The book advocates for an interconnected, creative and holistic path while calling for a transition from complexity to transdisciplinarity as a means of integrating knowledge. This challenges conventional ontological and epistemological perspectives in the face of our rapidly changing societies. This book offers a novel analytical perspective and is a valuable resource for researchers and scholars interested in addressing global challenges through complex resilience, sustainability and transdisciplinarity." — Florent Pasquier, Sorbonne Université and Centre International de Recherches et Études Transdisciplinaires (CIRET), Paris, France

"Today’s grand and global challenges are marked by irreducible complexities. They cannot be adequately addressed by reductionist approaches and are likely to not have a single, undisputable solution. The contributions to this volume, carefully edited by Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría, acknowledge these impurities and argue for approaches that transgress on-sided or narrow-minded perspectives. Thus, they offer topical insights into different domains and concepts that address issues of sustainability and resilience without reiterating traditional dichotomies between nature and culture or society and technology. Hence, the volume puts transdisciplinary in the centre of research practices that are both experimental and democratic. From Complex Systems to Transdisciplinarity is insightful and innovative, and a book you cannot ignore." — Cornelius Schubert, Technische Universität Dortmund, Germany

"This book shows how the Anthropocene world is an unpredictable system of complex systems. To comprehend and transform this world towards sustainability, we need new ontological and epistemic lenses offered by transdisciplinary inquiry. Policy makers, scientists and corporate leaders will benefit from reading this important collection of essays on the fundamental topics of resilience, sustainability, cybernetics, reflexivity, nature, and entropy." — Paul Shrivastava, Penn State University and The Club of Rome, United States of America

Preface and Acknowledgments, Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría. SECTION I: INTRODUCTION. Introduction: From Complex Systems to Transdisciplinarity, Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría. SECTION II: COMPLEX RESILIENCE. A Transdisciplinary Approach to Resilience: Limits and Possibilities of a Psycho-Sociological Strategic Game, Jesús Romero Moñivas. Resilience, Systemic Entropy, and Disruptive Complexity: The Case of Urban Megaprojects, Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría. Complexity in Higher Education: The Resilience of Researchers in Times of a Pandemic, Luiz Síveres and Lucicleide Araújo. SECTION III: COMPLEX SUSTAINABILITY. Collective Consumption and Food System Complexity: Citizen Mobilization, Territorial Rescaling, and Transformative Change, Taylor Davey and Diane E. Davis. Social Complexity and Organizational Reflexivity: Harnessing Ethical AI Surveillance for Climate Change Governmentality, Eliana Herrera-Vega. Transdisciplinary Resilience and Sustainability: Hospitality and Habitability in Healthcare Settings, Luís Gouveia, Catarina Delaunay, and Rita Morais. On Urban Complexity: A Transdisciplinary Approach for a Just Eco-Social Transition, Fernando Díaz Orueta. SECTION IV: RETHINKING TRANSDISCIPLINARITY. Transdisciplinary Thinking: Nicolescuian, Zurich, and Brazilian Approaches, Sue L. T. McGregor. Integrative Transdisciplinarity: Explorations and Experiments in Creative Scholarship, Alfonso Montuori. SECTION V: CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS. Conclusions: Summary of Findings and Implications, Gerardo del Cerro Santamaría. References. About the Contributors. Index.