Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Frederic Vester (November 23, 1925 - November 2, 2003) was a German biochemist, expert on ecology and known author of several books.
Vester was born in Saarbrücken. He studied chemistry at the universities of Mainz and Paris. From 1955 to 1957 he was postdoctoral fellow at Yale University. After that until 1966 he worked at the University of the Saarland, Saarbrücken, from 1969 onwards he worked in Munich, first at the Max Planck Institute. In 1970 he founded the private Munich-based Studiengruppe für Biologie und Umwelt (sbu) institute.
From 1982 to 1989 he taught as professor at the University of the Bundeswehr, Munich, and from 1989 to 1991 he was professor for Applied Economics at the Hochschule St. Gallen, Switzerland.
His ideas influenced the formation of the environmental movement and the green party in Germany. He was a member of the Club of Rome.
Vester was married to Anne Vester. The couple had three children and six grandchildren.
Vester was known as pioneer of Networked thinking, a combination of cybernetic and systemic ideas with complexity issues. Central ideas of network thinking included seeing a system as a network of interlinked effects, leading to emergent behavior of the system as a whole. These networks can be described with the help of methods like protocols, mathematical networks, computer software, so that even someone without much understanding of networks will see the relations, including positive and negative feedback loops. Simulations of systemic networks can help to decide the long-term effects of singular measures.
The Sensitivity Model of Vester combines these ideas, and was used since the 1980s in studies by Ford Motor Company, UNESCO and others.
Most of Vesters books appeared in German as well as in translations in other languages, but only seldom in English. A list of his works includes:
- Aufmerksamkeit im Unterricht (2002)
- Neuland des Denkens (2002)
- Denken, Lernen, Vergessen (2002)
- Phänomen Stress (2002)
- Unsere Welt - ein vernetztes System (2002)
- Crashtest Mobilität (1999)
- Ausfahrt Zukunft: Strategien für den Verkehr von morgen (1991)
- Leitmotiv vernetztes Denken (1990)
- Ein Baum ist mehr als ein Baum (1985)
- Das kybernetische Zeitalter (1982)
- Ballungsgebiete in der Krise/Urban Systems in Crisis. (1976)
Vester is also the author of the software tool Sensitivity model and of several cybernetic games:
- ecopolicy - das kybernetische Strategiespiel (1997)
- Ökolopoly. Ein kybernetisches Umweltspiel (1980/1996)
- Vester's homepage, English (http://www.frederic-vester.de/sminfo_engl.htm)