We believe your experience does not need any improvement. Hence, this website does not use cookies. By using this website you agree to our Privacy and Data Protection Policy.
We believe your experience does not need any improvement. Hence, this website does not use cookies. By using this website you agree to our Privacy and Data Protection Policy.
+43 676 6914488 office@bcsss.org Paulanergasse 13, 1040 Vienna, Austria

Socio-ecological Systems and Design

The Research Group Socio-Ecological Systems and Design investigates the interdependencies of natural – social – technological systems to develop appropriate design competencies for future oriented thrivable ecologies. We work at the interface of science – humanities – engineering/design.

Biologists, economists, engineers, architects, designers, social scientists and philosophers are invited to start a conversation and to exchange individual tools, methodologies, material and ways of operating. We are looking for developing strategies and designing systems of design for a ‘theory and practice of Gestaltung’ in a newly framed environment. Instead of continuing parallel running research projects, we encourage researchers from science, humanities, economics, and engineering disciplines as well as practitioners to collaborate in a transdisciplinary process in order to decode and encode domain and discipline specific modes of working, to strengthen the involved disciplines.

Design (Gestaltung) is more than a human potential. All we as humans do or not do is Gestaltung. The Research Group conducts research that takes the complexity of ecological, social, and technological systems into account and extends the subject matter into the paradigm of design and Gestaltung as living and learning system.

Emerging interdisciplinary design approaches like Transformation Design have been associated with work within communities for socially progressive ends, but also with work within organizations to introduce human-centered design approaches. Research and practice have been related to the role and impact of organizational development, business model innovation, innovation ecosystems, creative communities and social innovation as well as in urban design and regional development, and even the wide debate on the redesign of public services and the welfare state.

Expertise beyond the designers is a requirement! Transformation design tackles large scale complex issues involving many stakeholders and components, and their interdependencies. Co-creative “design with” the system approaches informed by Evolutionary and Social Systems Design insights are applied in holistic, multi-stage, iterative processes to engage with the complex dynamic systems and their constantly arising novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization, called emergence.

The Research Group engages in

  • Architecture and Spatial Design
  • Biological, systemic and computational design strategies
  • Urban design (e.g. sustainable urbanism, smart cognitive cities), and regional development
  • Biodiversity, agriculture and rural development
  • Designing and governing from biosphere reserves to nature sanctuaries
  • Design of supply networks in public services (e.g. energy, water, traffic and public transport, information technologies and telecommunications, health care, and education infrastructures) and value networks in business services
  • Designing Innovation and Business Ecosystems (cross-overs welcome)
  • Designing research and development systems and governmental systems to address the challenges of future oriented thrivable ecologies.


© Jürgen T. SturanyStefan Blachfellner is the Managing Director of the Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (BCSSS) in Vienna, hosting the European Meetings on Cybernetics and Systems Research and the Circular Economy Forum Austria, a former Vice President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS), and former Vice President and General Secretary of the International Federation for Systems Research (IFSR). From 2016 to 2018 he was appointed as Special Adviser to the European Commissioner for Transport.

He has broad experience as an entrepreneur and business consultant, and has taught entrepreneurship, leadership, creativity and innovation management, future studies, and various systems theories at several universities and in professional management training programs in Austria, Germany, Slovenia, France, Belgium, China and the USA.

His current projects are focused on the development of a General Systems Transdiscipline, Systems Design, Systemic Innovation and Impact Assessment to improve methods for addressing complex challenges towards the so called Next Economy, in particular the Circular Economy.

BCSSS establishes the Circular Economy Forum Austria

We proudly announce that our cooperation agreement with designaustria, respACT and Circular Futures at the initiative of the BCSSS has been formalized in June 2020, launching Circular Economy Forum Austria. This project will bring together a unique combination of competences uniting expertise in science, economy, design and governance within the…

Stefan Blachfellner introduces the Systemic View on Sustainable Supply Chain Management

BCSSS Managing Director Stefan Blachfellner took part in a new webinar series hosted by respACT, the Austrian business council for sustainable development and the UN Global Compact Network Austria, as guest lecturer. On the 22nd of April the first edition of the “Systemic Challenges in the Supply Chain” concerned itself…

BCSSS team joins Global Compact Network Austria workshop on Circular City

For this year’s General assembly of the Global Compact Network Austria on the 24th of March, BCSSS Managing Director Stefan Blachfellner was asked to join the “Circular City” team lead by BCSSS/Global Compact Network Austria Board Member Karin Huber-Heim. The team identifies possible pathways for the implementation of the Sustainable…

Promoting a Systems Perspective at circle-17 Sustainable Startup Event

On the 27th of February a circle-17 matchmaking event took place which BCSSS Managing Director Stefan Blachfellner was invited to participate in. circle-17 is an initiative started by respACT and AustrianStartUps and focuses on helping corporations, NPOs and startups to develop solutions to urgent sustainability challenges. This event in particular…

ONE DAY 2020 conference puts systems change front and center

ONE DAY: The Conference is an annual event to inspire and promote youth leadership in Austria and beyond. By bringing together NGOs, academics, companies and passionate changemakers, the conference asks how we can change systems, specifically in regards to three core topics each year, and co-creates solutions with both students…

Call for contributions! Special Award for ‘Action on Climate Change’ by IIID & BCSSS

Call for contributions! Special Design Award ‘Action on Climate Change’ The IIID Award is a great celebration of what Information Designers contribute to Society. They apply Creativity and Design Thinking to solve complex Communication Problems, and to improve every aspect of Human Life. In the framework of the IIID Award…

Call for papers! IRDO 2020, Maribor. Personal and Social Responsibility for Sustainable Future

Call for papers! 15th IRDO International Science and Business Conference 4 – 5 June 2020 Maribor, Slovenia Social Responsibility and current Challenges 2020: PERSONAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUSTAINABLE FUTURE IRDO – Institute for the Development of Social Responsibility, in cooperation with the University of Maribor invite scientists, managers, experts…