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International Conference on Complex Systems (ICCS2006)

How Deep and Broad are the Laws of Emergence?

Susan and Bruce Sgorbati and Weber
Bennington College

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     Last modified: May 26, 2006

How Deep and Broad are the Laws of Emergence? -- Transdisciplinary Explorations
Susan Sgorbati, Bennington College And Bruce Weber, Bennington College and California State University Fullerton. Bruce Weber, evolutionary biologist, and Susan Sgorbati, choreographer, have been in a dialogue for the last several years asking the question of whether there are deep structuring principles that cross disciplines. While both professors at Bennington College, they developed a series of courses that explored these structuring principles in complex systems. Ideas such as self-organization, emergence, improvisation, and complexity were investigated through the lens of different disciplines and modes of perception. The inquiry was both intellectually and experientially driven, exploring a range of emergent phenomena from physical and chemical examples through to emergence of mind. Students were asked to research and write papers, as well as move in the dance studio. Experiments in the studio led Susan Sgorbati to develop research that subsequently resulted in a national tour with professional dancers and musicians which will be performing as part of this conference. In this presentation and paper, Bruce and Susan will define concepts they’ve been using in their work and teaching, focusing on resonances between the different modalities. How to discern when organizing principles have relationships in common, and when they are specific to their systems seems an important distinction and line of inquiry that could have important implications for analyzing complex systems in a wide range of different environments from science to art to public policy and to the possibility of an emerging paradigm change in the culture more generally.

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