Please join us for a talk at the SU Museum, 52 Ryneveld Street.
Dr Rika Preiser
Senior Researcher
Centre for Complex Systems in Transition

At the turn of the century, the field of complex systems research was still rather marginal. Developments in the natural sciences since the 1950s largely influenced the theories and practical applications of what is now commonly called “complexity theory”. However, the recent uptake of these ideas have migrated from the natural sciences to inform new theories and frameworks in the social sciences, humanities, education, management sciences and other areas of societal domains such as monitoring and evaluation practices, policy making, strategic thinking, national and global governance and sustainable development discourses. Through discussions in these disciplines and domains of practice, complex systems research has become a mainstream phenomenon and new centers for complexity research are launched all over the world.

In this talk I will give a short overview of the main organising principles that inform an overarching understanding of complex systems and what the implications are for informing practical applications. Through this mapping of the main principles and implications, the positioning of the work of the CST in Stellenbosch will be highlighted in relation to international developments in the field of contemporary research on complex systems. I hope to demonstrate that our situatedness on the African continent and our legacy in understanding the normative implications of complexity, allows us to broaden the vocabulary of contemporary complex systems research, to the extent that we are anticipating and shaping the new frontiers in this emerging and fast-growing field of research and practice.

Dr Rika Preiser is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition (School of Public Leadership), Stellenbosch University. Her research explores how an interdisciplinary engagement with Complex Adaptive Systems can inform conceptual frameworks and practical applications for exploring new ways of understanding the relational nature of the world. Complexity-informed frameworks can provide perspectives that are better aligned to understand and respond to the challenges we face in a world that is increasingly complex, volatile and hard to anticipate. Her work is focused on the human experience to recognise the normative call to re-imagine what it means to be human in an increasingly inter-connected world.

Rika holds Masters degrees in Journalism and Social Anthropology and completed a PhD in Philosophy in 2012. She is a Salzburg Global Fellow, Theme Leader of the Systemic Change Lab at the European School of Governance and Vice-president for the International Society for the Systems Sciences Conference for 2020.

Wednesday, August 21st – 13:00 – 14:00
SU Museum, 52 Ryneveld Street
RSVP: Whitney Prins ( by 19 August