Centre for Technology, Philosophy and Social Systems
In 1995 an international group of about fifteen scholars from different disciplines came together in Amsterdam. This first meeting became the start of a formal cooperation between several universities and institutions in different countries. In 1996 the Philosophy Faculty of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), the School for Business Administration and Social Science of Luleň Technological University (Sweden), Information Systems Institute of Salford University (UK) formed the Centre for Technology and Systems (CTS) and representatives from these institutions form a Steering Group. This cooperation arranged Annual Working Conferences each year from then, held at the beautiful venue of Emmaus Priory, Maarssen, nr. Utrecht, Netherlands, to which scholars from these institutions, from other institutions, and those with personal interests, were welcome.
At these week-long events, researchers present papers on their current research, receive comprehensive critical mentoring, and respond with ideas on how their research will be continued. This formula has proved very successful in generating a flow of high quality papers in international scientific journals, informing PhD research, and sharpening up ideas on a wide range of issues. See publications.
The motivation for the Conferences was to give space to scholars working in the new paradigm of 'multimodal' or Dooyeweerdian philosophy and systems thinking, as it applied to many areas or life and related to other ways of thinking. There was, at the time, no platform for discussion of issues from this perspective and so scholars were denied the opportunity to develop and refine their thinking. The Annual Working Conferences attempted to fill this gap. For this reason, they have a unique structure.
Some years later the name was changed to Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social systems (CPTS) - to recognise the importance of philosophy and of social issues to our discussions. Other partners joined the Steering Group, from the School of Philosophy at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North West University (South Africa) and the Institute for Cultural Ethics (the Netherlands). These participants agreed to cooperate with the following objectives:
- to carry out an interdisciplinary research programme into the management and design of technology and social systems giving high priority to ethical and other normative issues;
- to promote the practical application of the research ideas developed at the Centre and vice versa to learn from the input from practice for further research work;
- to make available an international and interdisciplinary learning environment for doctoral students of the participating organisations.
Since its inception this Centre has initiated a number of other activities, including designing an International Masters Course in Philosophical Management, and the authoring of several books. Each five years a Report is written for the contributing organisations.
A landmark was the publication of a book, In Search of an Integrative Vision of Technology: Interdisciplinary Studies in Information Systems, containing papers related to the first ten years of activity.
Founder Sytse Strijbos Steps Down
Sytse was a founder of the CPTS along with Donald de Raadt when it began under the name Swehol (indicating a collaboration between Sweden and Holland) in the mid 1990s, then renamed CTS (Centre for Technology and Systems) when I joined it a year later, then renamed CPTS (Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Social Systems) a few years later. Sytse has been the 'father' of CPTS for most of this time. More precisely, Sytse has provided the core vision the CPTS and worked hard arranging the Annual Working Conferences.
At the core of the vision of CPTS, and the reason why CPTS exists and functions, is: facilitation and exploration of how an avowedly and well-thought-out Biblical ('Christian') perspective can interact with, and contribute to, mainstream thinking in social systems especially in relation to technology and information. Around this vision, discourse in CPTS has matured to be characterized by the following:
- recognition of the 'religious' presuppositions underlying all thinking, and that these should be revealed and openly discussed;
- development of high quality contributions to mainstream thought from the perspective of the Biblical motif of creation, fall, redemption;
- Dooyeweerd's philosophy, in relation to other philosophy, especially systems thinking and critical social theory;
- focus on the technological, informational and social aspects (especially ICT, cultural issues such as North-South relations, and STS interrelationships);
- collective human responsibility in the light of normative structures of the world;
- interdisciplinarity: all application areas are welcomed;
- high quality academic discourse that exposes roots of thinking and stimulates new ways of thinking;
- mentoring: giving space for participants, especially PhD students, to develop their thinking, aiming at publication or thesis.
This, I suggest, makes CPTS unique. Though others have contributed to building this profile, Sytse is the one primarily responsible for it.
Thank you, Sytse, for this valuable gift to the world.
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Page Created: 22 June 2010 - draft.