Complexity: A Rationale for the University


Lowell Gustafson


Complexity provides a unifying theme that responds to fundamental questions about the emergent structure of the universe as well as human nature. It offers an intellectual framework for disciplines throughout universities. It structures a universe of knowledge across natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities – from quarks to global societies and human fascination with inter-galactic relations. Ideas of complexity begin with its unidirectional emergence from the big bang to us now. The idea is developed by its multidirectional emergence that includes narratives from the big bang to planets, galaxies, and life forms other than our own. Furthermore, complexity often entails stasis, with levels of complexity remaining as they are, reversing to simpler levels, or all or parts of nature ending altogether. Speculations about multiple universes lead to an idea of infinite complexity.


Author Biography

Lowell Gustafson, Villanova University

Lowell Gustafson is Professor of Political Science at Villanova University in Pennsylvania (USA).  His research has included how science explains the origin and development of polity and how emergent complexity provides an intellectual rationale for universities. He has served as secretary, vice-president, and president of the International Big History Association (IBHA), and as editor of Origins: The Bulletin of the IBHA, and the Journal of Big History.