Frederic Vester

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Frederic Vester (born November 23, 1925 in Saarbrücken , † November 2, 2003 in Munich ) was a German biochemist , systems researcher , environmental expert, university professor and popular science author .


Frederic Vester studied chemistry in Mainz , Paris and Hamburg , was a postdoc at Yale , Saarbrücken and Munich, and completed his habilitation in biochemistry in 1969 . In 1970 he founded the “Study Group for Biology and Environment Frederic Vester GmbH” in Munich, renamed “frederic vester GmbH” after his death, which was financed by state and private consultancy contracts. From 1982 to 1989 Vester was professor at the chair for interdependence of technology and society at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich , from 1989 to 1991 visiting professor for applied economics at the University of St. Gallen . As an author and through his presence in the media, Vester made the understanding of the system and "networked thinking" popular in the German-speaking world.

Frederic Vester is the father of the actress Saskia Vester, named after his mother, and her sister Madeleine Vester , who also works as an actress. Frederic Vester was also one of the founding members of the BUND and was one of the pioneers of the environmental movement in German-speaking countries. Vester is buried in the Nordfriedhof in Munich.

Connected thinking

With reference to cybernetics (or biocybernetics ), Vester has propagated systemic (“ networked ”) thinking , an approach in which the properties of a system are seen as a networked structure of effects. The individual factors strengthen or weaken other variables of the system ( feedback ). This networking, which confuses the inexperienced (“linear thinking”) viewer, can be analyzed and made comprehensible with the help of the methodology of his sensitivity model in several work steps with software support. In this way, z. B. positive, self-reinforcing and negative, self-regulating feedback loops can be reliably recognized. Influencing variables are visible in their system quality and evaluated (e.g. as stabilizing, critical, buffering or sensitive to external influences, etc.). Long-term or special characteristics can be observed through simulations. On the basis of a model developed in this way, questions about sensible intervention options and control levers, future developments or possible system improvements can be answered. The methods and evaluations developed by Vester are summarized in his " Prof. Vester Sensitivity Model ", which is marketed in seminars and as software and has been used since around 1980 in, in some cases, extensive studies. The idea of ​​the influence matrix, which is central in this procedure , was adopted by other authors in the priority matrix.

In his bestseller “ Thinking, Learning, Forgetting ”, Vester formulated hypotheses according to which different types of learners ( learner types ) prefer different “ channels ” (auditory, visual, haptic , verbal-abstract). After his own research, Vester set up a theory of learning biology , which describes the peculiarities of each person when recording, linking and storing information . However, according to Vester, the four learner types of this model rarely appear as ideal-typical forms, but mostly as mixed forms with a focus on disposition (such as the audio-visual type ). This classification is scientifically controversial, but has been widely accepted by educators in the German-speaking area.

Vester was inducted into the Club of Rome in 1993. In 1999 Vester's book “The Art of Networked Thinking. Ideas and tools for dealing with complexity "published as" The new report to the Club of Rome "(currently 10th edition dtv 2015). In the book, Vester summarizes his essential statements and shows the procedure and the wide range of applications of the sensitivity model in practical projects.

Awards (selection)

Works (selection)


  • The cybernetic age , S. Fischer, 1974/1982 , ISBN 3-10-087201-0
  • Thinking, learning, forgetting - what goes on in our head, how does the brain learn, and when does it let us down? , Original edition: dva (Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt), Stuttgart 1975 ( No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list from March 31 to August 24, 1975 ); Paperback edition: dtv, Munich, 1st edition 1978, 31st edition 2007, 33rd edition September 2009, 38th edition September 2018 ISBN 978-3-423-33045-9
  • The phenomenon of stress - where is its origin, why is it vital, what makes it degenerate? , dtv, Munich 1976/2002 , ISBN 3-423-33044-9 ( 1st place on the Spiegel bestseller list from March 1 to April 18, 1976 )
  • Metropolitan areas in crisis: Understanding and planning human habitats , study on behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior as part of the environmental research program, dtv, Munich 1976/1991, ISBN 3-423-11332-4
  • Cancer - misdirected life (with Gerhard Henschel). dtv, Munich, 1977
  • New territory of thinking - from the technocratic to the cybernetic age , dtv, Munich 1984/2002 , ISBN 3-423-33001-5
  • A tree is more than a tree - a window book , Kösel, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-466-11050-5
  • Balance of a Ver (w) irrung , Heyne, 1986, ISBN 3-453-43090-5
  • The value of a bird , Kösel, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-466-11038-6
  • Water = life, a cybernetic environmental book with 5 water cycles . Illustrations: Peter Schimmel . Ravensburger, 1987, ISBN 3-473-35597-6
  • Networked thinking as the leitmotif. For a better way of dealing with the world. , Heyne Sachbuch 109, 1990, ISBN 3-453-04020-1
  • Exit future: Strategies for tomorrow's traffic (includes the results of the Ford study ) Heyne, 1991, ISBN 3-453-03983-1
  • Mobility crash test. The future of transport. Facts, strategies, solutions. , dtv, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-423-33050-3
  • Our world - a networked system , dtv, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-33046-5
  • Attention in class (with Günther Beyer), Verlag Quelle & Meyer, Aachen 2002, ISBN 3-494-01317-9
  • The Art of Interconnected Thinking. Ideas and tools for tackling complexity . MCB-Verlag, Munich 2007
  • The art of networked thinking - ideas and tools for a new way of dealing with complexity; The new report to the Club of Rome , DVA and dtv, Munich, 1st edition 1999, 6th edition 2007, 9th edition 2012, ISBN 3-423-33077-5
  • Columbus' egg. An energy picture book by Frederic Vester, Kösel Verlag, Munich 1979.
  • Sensitivity model Prof. Vester (since 2006 Malik sensitivity model according to Prof. Vester . Software package Malik Management Zentrum St. Gallen AG)


  • Ecolopoly . A cybernetic environmental game , 1980 as a board game, 1996 as a PC diskette, later on CD-ROM under the name "Ecopolicy".


  • Thinking, learning, forgetting ; 3-part series, 130 minutes.
  • Phenomenon of stress ; 4-part series, 52 minutes.
  • New territory of thinking ; 2-part series, 135 minutes.
  • Master of complexity ; Interview, 55 minutes.


  • Time bomb climate change: a passage through the networking of the most important climate factors ; Multimedia CD-ROM for Windows, 2007, Gazette-Verlags-GmbH, Munich
  • Ecopolicy - the cybernetic strategy game ; Teaching software according to JuSchG; (CD-ROM), MCB Publishing House, Munich, 2011, ISBN 3-939314-12-9 (German / English-language multimedia CD-ROM for Windows, as a single or network version )

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Since 2006, all projects and products of Frederic Vester and frederic vester GmbH have been continued by Malik Management Zentrum St. Gallen AG .
  2. z. B. Ford Study Future of Cars ; UNESCO study of conurbations in crisis .
  3. Since the acquisition of the rights to all of Vester's works by Fredmund Malik, the Verster sensitivity model has been continued as the " Malik sensitivity model according to Prof. Vester " and used in management and planning projects worldwide.
  4. Vester's “ Thinking, Learning, Forgetting ” is now with the 36th edition (2014) one of the ten best-selling books by the German paperback publisher.
  5. ^ Announcement of awards of the Saarland Order of Merit . In: Head of the State Chancellery (Ed.): Official Gazette of the Saarland . No. 35 . Saarbrücker Zeitung Verlag und Druckerei GmbH, Saarbrücken July 13, 1989, p. 995 ( [PDF; 206 kB ; accessed on June 2, 2017]).

Web links