Lugano Summer School


Continuing Education in Systems Thinking

Università della Svizzera Italiana (USI), Lugano, Switzerland

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Current Announcements

Lugano Summer School of Systems Design

After twelve years of fascinating and rewarding engagement in the field of continuing education in systems thinking for graduate, doctoral, and postdoctoral students, as well as for academic teachers, practicing researchers, and mature professionals, the Lugano Summer School of Systems Design (LSS) has ceased operations and has closed its books as per 31 December 2013.

No further Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer Schools or other events are planned.
The Summer School site will be maintained for a while but will no longer be updated.

My thanks go to all the staff and the participants from 33 countries that have made this series of interesting events possible.

Thank you for your interest in the Summer School's activities.
Wishing you all the best in your personal quest for competence in systemic research and practice!

       Prof. Werner Ulrich, Summer School Director  [4 JAN 2014]


The Lugano Summer School has been a truly global experience.
LSS participants came from 31 countries, including all the continents (except Antarctica);
the LSS staff came from 8 countries (including 2 more countries).

This is where the Lugano Summer School
participants have come from:






          Dominican Republic



         Hong Kong












                    New Zealand




      Saudi Arabia


                   South Africa




                                    United Kingdom




(Source: Reproduced from the "Participants" page of this site,
complemented with two additional countries of staff origin)

Remembering LSS 2012 – and the entire Summer School Project

The last Lugano Summer School event is gone. It was a fitting end to the successful series of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer Schools on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking that the Lugano Summer School has offered since 2005, and all the events it has organized since its inception in 2001. Faithful to the idea that informed its particular profile of continuing education in systems thinking, we once again had in this last event a highly motivated group of 21 mature participants from countries all around the globe, ranging from Australia via Hong Kong and India to Venezuela, and from South Africa via Cameroon, Saudi Arabia and Portugal to Switzerland and Sweden. All continents were represented in this one event (see the "Participants" page for an overview of where the participants came from during all these years). More importantly, the attitude and mood of the group were exactly as they should, the right combination between seriousness and joyfulness, ambition and relaxation. Participants and interested visitors of this site will find a selection of pictures in the page "Pictures 2012"; perhaps they convey some of the seriousness as well as the relaxation that characterized this Summer School.

LSS 2012 concludes an educational project that will have spanned a bit more than twelve years, from the first preparations in autumn 2000 to the closing of the Summer School books in 2013. It has been an extraordinary project, a "one-of-a-kind" educational opportunity that meant a lot to me and has brought me wonderful contacts with many dedicated teachers and students of contemporary systems thinking. Throughout these years, the teaching effort involved remained a challenge that I found stimulating and rewarding; thanks to many outstanding participants, it never became a mere routine. For a number of reasons, it is now time for those involved to move on and undertake new projects, before signs of fatigue or routine creep in. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all the Faculty members and other staff listed in the "Faculty" page. The last event, LSS 2012, would not have been possible without the administrative support of Professors Mauro Baranzini, who in his capacity as former Vice-Dean and then Dean of the Lugano Faculty of Economics supported the Lugano Summer School project from the outset, and Giorgio Tonella, our former Associate Director and local Faculty member at USI Lugano without whom I could not have organized these events. My special thanks also go to Professor Peter Checkland, the only Faculty member who shared each and every Summer School event with me and whose cooperation during all these years I appreciate profoundly. Finally, this is also the place to thank my wife, Kathy, who during all these years was the good soul of the Summer School and contributed to it, and to the well-being of the participants, in various and important ways. Thank you all for the good cooperation and friendship you have offered me in this adventure, and all the best for your future.

       Prof. Werner Ulrich, Summer School Director  [5 SEP 2012, last modified 9 SEP 2012]

Second LSS 2012 Progress Report [last updated 17 May/27 April 2012]

1. Registration closed (places subject to availability)

We have reached the planned maximum number of 20 confirmed participants. Accordingly, enrollment for LSS 2012 is now closed and the registration form has been deactivated. However, it may still happen (and it usually does) that a very few (1-2) participants have to withdraw before the start of the Summer School for reasons beyond their control, such as illness or unexpected but binding other obligations. Hence, should you have become aware of this educational opportunity only now and feel it would have been of high interest to you, do not hesitate to contact the Summer School Director and inquire about available places. Given that LSS 2012 will be the last event of its kind, it would be a pity indeed if some genuinely interested researchers would miss it while others had to withdraw, leaving a few places available.

2. Origin of admitted participants

The participants' countries of citizenship (including multiple citizenships) currently are: Australia (3), Cameroon (1), Germany (2), India (1), Iran (1), Kosovo-Albania (1), Mozambique (1), Portugal (2), Saudi Arabia (1), South Africa (2), Sweden (2), Switzerland (2), UK (3), USA (1), and Venezuela (2).

The participants' current countries of residence are: Australia (4), India (1), Netherlands (1), South Africa (1), Singapore (1), Sweden (5), Switzerland (3), UK (2), USA (2), and Venezuela (2).

Regarding the participants' educational and professional backgrounds, please see the previous progress report (last updated on 26 March 2012).

3. New Associate Director

Due to the retirement of the Summer School's former Associate Director, Giorgio Tonella, we needed a new Associate Director who would secure the contact with our host faculty, the Faculty of Economics of the University Lugano (USI). The Summer School is grateful to Mauro Baranzini, Professor of Political Economics and former Dean of the Faculty of Economics, for accepting to take on this role. Professor Baranzini's distinguished academic career led him to Oxford and Cambridge (UK), Verona and Milan (Italy), Harvard, Berkeley and Stanford (USA), and Fribourg and Lugano (Switzerland). In his capacity of then Vice-Dean and later Dean of the Faculty, he supported the Lugano Summer School of Systems Design from its inception in 2001. I cordially welcome him among the staff of the Summer School.

4. Attention: room change

USI main entrance © 2005/2012  LSSCounter to what has been previously announced, the Summer School will meet not in Room A 13 of the "Red Building" but in Room 354 of the Main Building (as shown on the right, 3rd floor). The entry to the Main Building of the University of Lugano (Università de la Svizzera Italiana, USI Lugano) is situated on Via Giuseppe Buffi 13 (often also written "via G. Buffi 13") in Lugano. To find the location, it is best to use Google Maps and search for "University of Lugano, Switzerland."

Please note that due to a current lack of rooms, after a period of rapid expansion of the University, I cannot exclude at this stage that there might be another room change in the two months remaining until the start of LSS 2012. Be sure, therefore, to check this page again shortly before the start of the Summer School. Thank you.

5. Preparatory reading [last updated 17 May 2012]

Based on the feedback received so far, it is clear that virtually all participants welcome the idea of doing some preparatory reading. I plan to distribute two or three readings about 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the Summer School. Update 17 May 2012: The readings have been distributed on May 16, 2012.

I look forward to meeting you in Lugano!
       Prof. Werner Ulrich, Director  [18 APR 2012, updated 27 April 2012 and 17 May 2012]


LSS 2012 Progress Report [updated 26 March 2012]

1. Confirmation of LSS 2012

The Lugano Summer School of Systems Design is pleased to announce that

Earlier than in previous years, we have reached the minimum number of qualified participants that allows us to run this last planned Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking. We currently have 16 admitted participants [update 26 March 2012: 19 participants].

The participants' countries of residence currently include Australia (5), Serbia (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (5), Switzerland (3), United States (2), and Venezuela (2); countries of citizenship include Australia (5), Germany (1), Iran (1), Kosovo (1), Portugal (1), Serbia (1), Sweden (2), Switzerland (2), South Africa (2), United Kingdom (2), and Venezuela (2).

The fields of study and professional practice represented by the participants include: adult education, agricultural management, architecture, business management, community / public health, cultural studies, economics and social science, industrial design, information systems / information and communication technology (ICT), knowledge management, innovation management, management consultancy, mechanical engineering, occupational psychology, organizational coaching, organizational development (OD), product development, project management, quality engineering and management, research & development (R&D), sport science / injury prevention, sustainable development, town and regional planning, and others.

2. Remaining chances to participate

A maximum of 20 participants will be admitted to LSS 2012, so only a very few study places are still available as of the date of this announcement. In addition, experience suggests, there is a small chance that one or two more places become available if some admitted participant(s) should need to withdraw for unforeseen reasons (e.g. illness). Hence, if you have become aware of this educational offer only recently, there is still a chance to get one of the few remaining places. Please apply through the Registration Form. If you have any queries about your chances to be admitted, do not hesitate to email the School Director, Prof. Werner Ulrich.

Lugano - lake promenadeIf as an admitted participant you have not paid your tuition fee as yet, you need to act now to secure your place. Please ask your bank or your supporting institution to do the bank transfer as soon as possible. The deadline for tuition payment has been extended to 31 March 2012. (For late admissions, the deadline will be three weeks after the date of their admission.) Should you have any difficulties to meet the your deadline, be sure to inform the School Director in advance, otherwise your place is at risk.

Study places are assigned in the order of receipt of tuition. Late applications will be considered admitted as long as places are available. However, there is no way of predicting how long this will be so.

3. Accommodation and travel arrangements

If you are an admitted participant and have not done so as yet, it is now also time to finalize your accommodation and travel arrangements. For some basic information and advice, see the page "Facilities & Accommodation" of this site.

4. Time and place of the opening session

The Summer School is scheduled to begin on Monday, 18 June 2008, at 9:15 AM, in Room A 13 of the Red Building" of the Lugano University campus (for a photo, see here). This is a new building, easily recognized by its red color, which is situated immediately behind the old main building (shown on the right). Room A 13 is located on the ground floor of the building.

Attention: This room is not yet secured and may change. Be sure to check this page shortly before the start of the Summer School for definitive information about the time and location of the opening session.

5. How to find the University

The University is situated at Via Giuseppe Buffi 13 in Lugano. (Note that in some older maps, this location may still be marked "Ospedale Civico," as the new university campus was developed on the site of an earlier hospital.) To find Via Giuseppe Buffi, you may wish to use the two interactive city maps of Lugano on the page "Additional Information."

I look forward to welcoming you in Lugano!
       Prof. Werner Ulrich, Director  [28 FEB 2012, last updated 26 MAR 2012]


Enrollment for LSS 2012 currently proceeding

   Only a limited number of places is still available

   LSS 2012 Progress Report to be published soon

   Last chance to attend this kind of event

   The time to register for LSS 2012 is now !

Act NOW !

The enrollment for LSS 2012 is proceeding well. As in the past, we will have a good number of highly qualified and motivated participants with different educational and professional backgrounds. Participants once again come from an interesting mix of countries, some of which will be represented for the first time (e.g., Belarus, Serbia, Ukraine, and Venezuela) while others belong to the traditional countries of origin of our participants (e.g., Australia, England, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland); for a complete list of the countries of origin, see the "Participants" page of this site. In short, all the lights are green! If you have discovered this educational offer only now or for some other reason have hesitated to enrol, please go ahead and enrol through the Registration Form. There is a formal application procedure, to ensure that all participants are sufficiently prepared. It also helps if in the "Comments" section of the form, you explain your reasons and motivation for participating. In cases of doubts as to whether or not the academic program of LSS 2012 is for you, do not hesitate to contact the School Director, he will be glad to assist you as it is in the interest of both the participants and the Summer School that everyone's interests match! Do not wait for the last moment; once the available 20 places have been assigned to qualified participants, you may not be able to enrol despite adequate qualification and strong motivation. You might then have missed the last chance to attend this kind of event, as LSS 2012 is likely to be the last Lugano Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on soft and critical systems thinking. So, its now or never!

[21 JAN 2012]


Announcing LSS 2012:

    The Academic Program of the next Lugano Summer School event has now been published

    Enrollment is now open for LSS 2012

LSS 2012 is the next Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking, to be held once again at the University of Lugano, Switzerland, from 18 to 29 June 2012. LSS 2012 is very likely to be the last event of this successful series. As in previous years, it is open to postdoctoral researchers and doctoral students, as well as to advanced masters students and practicing researchers or professionals of a broad range of applied disciplines with adequate preparation; see the page "Participants" for a short description of the target group to which this Summer School is addressed. The number of available places is limited to a maximum of 20. There is a formal application procedure, the sole purpose of which is to make sure that participants will actually be able to benefit of the Summer School and that the available places are assigned to those most interested and likely to benefit.


«Systems Thinking for Improving
my Research and Professional Practice»

For the academic program of this Summer School, please see the "Academic Program" page. 
For tuition and registration details, see the "Admission, Tuition & Fees" page.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to email the School Director, Prof. Werner Ulrich, and ask for specific information.

[28 MAY 20011, last updated 21 JAN 2012]

Previous Announcements

Continuing support of open-access academic publishing by the Lugano Summer School The Lugano Summer School continues its institutional sponsorship of the Journal of Research Practice (JRP) as first announced on 19 February 2005 (see below). Moreover, the Summer School Director is now a Coeditor of the journal, which is published online by Athabasca University Press (AU Press), Canada, in the open-access mode. JRP is a peer-reviewed journal that was launched in 2005 by a small but world-wide community of scholars (among them, the Summer School Director) interested in developing our understanding of all forms of research (from basic to applied research and professional intervention) as a kind of practice. Accordingly, the journal is open to contributions by research theorists, students, and practitioners from all fields of basic and applied research, including professional practice. Issues of research philosophy and education (including doctoral education), research assessment and evaluation, the methodological issues of inter- and transdisciplinary research, reflective research and professional practice, as well as research ethics and politics and related fields, are of interest. Papers that document and discuss efforts aimed at self-reflective inquiry and learning across disciplinary boundaries are particularly welcome. Contributions on research practice guided by soft and critical systems thinking frameworks as they are taught in the Summer School may also be of interest, to the extent they reflect on the use of such frameworks, discuss the merits and difficulties of their application, and are of sound academic quality. JRP is able to offer committed reviewing and copy-editing support.

Journal of Research Practice (JRP)

For current or former Summer School participants who would like to publish reflective accounts of their research or professional practice and who are committed to producing a high-quality paper, JRP is always a possible publication outlet of interest. See also the Journal's Call for papers. The Summer School has supported JRP since its inception, not only with a view to offering Summer School participants a publication option but also to help promote the open-access (OA) philosophy of academic publishing, in the conviction that OA publishing will be an important part of the future of academic publishing. On this topic, you may wish to read the School Director's essay "Open doors: a plea for open-access publishing."

[12 NOV 2010, last updated 21 JAN 2012]

Changed Lugano Summer School schedule for 2011 and 2012

The next Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on soft and critical systems thinking is planned for the second half of June, 2012. Details will be announced in May 2011.
Please consult this site again in due time. Thank you.

[22 NOV 2010, updated 20 MAR 2011]


Lugano Summer School schedule for 2010/11:  The next Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on soft and critical systems thinking is being considered for June, 2011; however, no decisions have been taken as yet. Decisions will be announced in due time. If you are interested in attending a next event, please let us know you are, and consult this site again in late autumn, 2011. Thank you.
[19 NOV 2009]


LSS 2008 Memory Booklet: The 2008 Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking lives on in our minds and hearts as a very special and precious experience. It took place from the 2nd to the 13th of June at the University of Lugano, with the maximum number of 20 participants. They represented a truly global mix of nationalities, cultures, age groups, and professional backgrounds. Even so, they may have been the most homogeneous group we've ever had, speaking in terms of the high qualification of all the participants, as well as their openness to new ideas and their spirit of cooperation and reflectiveness. LSS 2008 was one of those rare events where you feel that real dialogue is taking place, which makes people listen attentively to one another and together enlarge their understanding. There was an intensity and emotional warmth, a sense of shared excitement, which was energizing us and allowing us to experience these two weeks as a meaningful, enriching encounter.

On the last day, the class offered a beautiful surprise to its hosts and instructors, Peter Checkland and myself, in the form of a memory booklet and a musical performance. In an attempt to capture these contributions, along with the spirit of excitement and shared reflection that characterized LSS 2008, I decided to prepare a special memory page this year. It goes beyond the "Pictures" pages of previous Summer Schools available in this site, in that in addition to some photographs, it includes a number of contributions by the participants themselves, among them

In accordance with the personal nature of this memory page, it appears as this summer's (July-August 2008) edition of Ulrich's Bimonthly rather than as a standard page of the Summer School site. However, I have linked it to the Summer School site in such a way that when you click on the " Memory Booklet 2008" link here or in the left-hand menu, the memory page will appear within the main frame of the present site (to return to the present page, click on "Current Announcements" in the left-hand menu). Enjoy it!

To all the participants of LSS 2008, I extend my sincere thanks for making this event so meaningful and rewarding. I hope LSS 2008 will remain an event that you will remember for many years to come and which with hindsight, you will be able to count among those moments in your personal quest for meaning and competence which changed you.
Werner Ulrich, Director [4 JUL 2008]

Attention room change: Unlike what was announced in the confirmation message emailed to all participants on 15 March (or following admission to those participants who were admitted after the 15th of March), Room A 13 is located in the "Red Building" rather than the main building of the University campus in Lugano. For details see "How and When to Travel to Lugano" and point 4 of the "LSS 2008 Progress Report" below.

[16 MAY 2008]

Enrollment closed: The enrollment has now ended, as we have reached the maximum number of participants. However, as unforeseen withdrawals sometimes occur, see the note below concerning a small "Remaining chance to participate." [16 MAY 2008]

Start of the Summer School: You can now also find the time and place where we meet on the first day, along with a picture of the "Red Building" in which our sessions will take place, in the page "How and When to Travel to Lugano" (cf. point 4 of the subsequent Progress Report). Be sure to note down these details before you travel.

[1 MAY 2008]

LSS 2008 Progress Report [17 MAR 2008, last updated 20 MAR 2008]

1. Confirmation of LSS 2008

The Lugano Summer School of Systems Design is pleased to announce that LSS 2008 will take place as planned : 2-13 June at the University of Lugano. We have been able to admit a sufficient number of qualified participants from different fields of study and from many different countries.

The countries of origin (citizenship) currently represented include: Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. [as of 1 MAY 2008]

The fields of study represented include: environmental management/ natural resources management, agricultural policy/ agroecology, general management, human resources management, technology management, industrial engineering, transport engineering and planning, law, national defense policy, information technology/ information systems design & management/ software engineering, social and organizational psychology, science & society studies, and others.

We would like to say "thank you" to all the participants who by their interest in this educational offer make it possible for us to organize this event, and particularly also to those participants who have respected the deadlines for enrollment and tuition payment and in this way have allowed us to decide early on that LSS 2008 is secured. Those among you who have been admitted but have not paid the tuition as yet, please do not forget to arrange your tuition payment as soon as possible, as places in the Summer School are assigned in the order of receipt of tuition payments and enrollment continues until we have reached the maximum number of 20 participants.

2. Remaining chance to participate Attention latecomers!

There is a strict maximum of 20 participants. We currently do have a few more than 20 admitted participants, but not all of them have secured their place by paying their tuition. Among those who have, some may need to withdraw before the start of the Summer School for unforeseen reasons. It is therefore still possible for latecomers to apply for admission. If for any reason you have not previously become aware of the Summer School and feel it is what you have been looking for, do not hesitate to register, or email the School Director at the email address indicated in the "Contact" page of this site. [added 16 MAY 2008]

3. Accommodation and travel arrangements

If you have not done so as yet, it is now also time to finalize your accommodation and travel arrangements. Some basic information is available in the page "Facilities & Accommodation" of this site. More detailed information is contained in the confirmation message that has been sent out to all participants on 15 March 2008. Participants admitted thereafter will receive a copy of the confirmation message subsequent to their admission.

4. Time and place of the opening session

The Summer School is scheduled to begin on Monday, 2 June 2008, at 9:15 AM, in Room A 13 of the Red Building" of the Lugano University campus (for a photo, see here). This is a new building, easily recognized by its red color, which is situated immediately behind the old main building (shown on the right). Room A 13 is located on the ground floor of the building. Attention: The room location has changed as compared to the confirmation message sent out by email of 15 March, in which Room A 13 was said to be located in the main building. [added 1 MAY 2008 ]

Note: There is a small possibility that the room number may still change. Be sure to check this "Current Announcements" page shortly before the start of the Summer School for possible last-minute changes of the room or time of the opening session.

Main building of USI Lugano (partial view)

 Main building of the Lugano University campus (partial view)

5. How to find the University

The University is situated at Via Giuseppe Buffi 13 in Lugano. (Note that in some older maps, this location may still be marked "Ospedale Civico," as the new university campus was developed on the site of an earlier hospital.) To find Via Giuseppe Buffi, you may wish to use the two interactive city maps of Lugano on the page "Additional Information."

I look forward to welcoming you in Lugano!
       Prof. Werner Ulrich, Director  [20 MAR 2008]


Time to register for LSS 2008 !

Act NOW !

LSS 2008 is going to be a regular Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking (see the "Academic program" page). The Summer School will once again be held at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano, from 213 June 2008. This may well be one of the last opportunities to get first-hand accounts of Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) and of Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) directly from their originators Peter Checkland and Werner Ulrich in one and the same event, and to discuss with them ways to integrate the two approaches into your own work. So, if you are interested in hearing the original sound of SSM and CSH, do not hesitate to seize this opportunity before it is too late. The time to apply is now! We have been able thus far to admit participants from Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, The Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the USA. A few places are still available. Application deadline: 29 February 2008. For details, see the page "Admission, Tuition, Deadlines" of this site.

[5 FEB 2008]


Sponsorship awarded to the Lugano Summer School

LSS sponsor: Momentus Management Consulting AB, Sweden The Lugano Summer School has received a one-time sponsorship contribution from Momentus Management Consulting AB in Solna, Sweden. Momentus is also showing its appreciation in a dedicated page of its web site, describing our summer school program as "a unique educational program" and as "a rare occasion to deepen their understanding of key management ideas and learn to practice corresponding methodological tools." Momentus is a partner-owned consulting company that started its operations in 2004 in Stockholm. One of its founding partners is a former, repeated participant of the Lugano Summer School. Momentus offers a "Scandinavian" (i.e., holistic, people and customer centered) approach to management based in nine core competencies and services: business environment analysis; business strategy formulation; customer analysis and segmentation; formulation of value propositions to customers and consumers; designing and managing customer communication channels; analysis and redesign of operations and processes with a value-oriented outlook; customer-oriented organization design; information systems design and management; and formulation of strategic and operational performance indicators (organizational metrics).

The Lugano Summer School gratefully acknowledges the generous support offered by Momentus Management Consulting AB. This sponsorship will allow the School to keep its tuition fees as low as possible, along with equally low minimum numbers of participants for running Summer School events. It encourages us to continue our efforts of trying to offer high-quality educational opportunities at affordable prices, at a time when universities appear to have ever smaller budgets for assisting their research staff and students in attending educational opportunities such as those offered by the Lugano Summer School. Thank you, Momentus AB, for awarding us this much-appreciated recognition and support.

[12 NOV 2007 ]  

LSS 2008 Announcement – Enrollment now open for LSS 2008

LSS 2008 is the next regular Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft and Critical Systems Thinking.

The event is open to doctoral students, advanced masters students, as well as researchers and practitioners with adequate preparation. It will once again take place at the University of Lugano, Switzerland, from 2 to 13 June 2008 .


"Integrating Soft Systems Methodology and Critical Systems Heuristics
into my Research and Professional Practice"

For the academic program of this Summer School, please see the "Academic Program" page. 
For tuition and registration details, see the "Admission, Tuition & Fees" page.

[22 MAY 2007 ]  


Previous Announcements

Substantial fee reduction!   The strong Euro and a number of substantial budget cuts make it possible for the Lugano Summer School to reduce the tuition fees for LSS 2007 SP and LSS 2008 as follows:

The reduced fees apply to new as well as to previous registration for LSS 2007 SP and LSS 2008.
[19  JAN 2007 ]

A note on the changed fee policy of the Lugano Summer School

The issue of tuition discounts for participants from economically weaker countries, vs. lower fees for everyone

For a while, participants from countries other than Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan have been offered a reduced tuition fee. 
By offering such a differentiation of the tuition fees, the Summer School was hoping to make it easier for participants from economically weaker countries to participate. However, experience suggests that this aim was not reached; the financial hurdle remained too high for many participants. Furthermore, individual economic inequalities among participants from one and the same country may be as considerable as average inequalities among different regions of the world; differentiated fees therefore risk discriminating against some participants coming from economically privileged countries whose individual situation may not be particularly comfortable.

Consequently, the Lugano Summer School has now modified its fee policy, in an effort to offer substantially lower fees to all participants.
from 2007, massively reduced tuition fees are offered. The reductions became possible thanks to major budget cuts as well as to the currently strong exchange rate of the Euro against the Swiss Franc. Consequently, no further reductions can be offered to participants coming from economically weaker countries (defined earlier as countries other than Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan). All participants will thus once again pay the same reduced tuition fee, which at any rate is now considerably lower than was the previous, reduced fee for participants coming from economically weaker countries. [19  JAN 2007 ]


Announcements 2006-07

The program of the Lugano Summer School for 2007-2008:

LSS 2007 SP (Special Program) and LSS 2008


For the academic programs of the two events, please see the "Academic Program" page of this site. For tuition and registration details, see the "Admission, Tuition & Fees" page. [22 JUNE 2006, updated 18 JAN 2007 ]  


FAQs updated   Do you have any questions to which you don't find answers in the pages of this site? Try the page "Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)"; it has now been updated to include all recent changes and give links back to relevant other sections of the site.
[25  MARCH 2006 ]


Preliminary Announcement:   LSS 2007 Special Program (LSS 2007 SP)  

In cooperation with the Business Ethics Center of Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary, and a distinguished international Faculty, the Lugano Summer School is planning for 2007 a special program dedicated to the ethical grounding of reflective practice. The event's topic will be:

"Business Ethics, Professional Ethics, and Ethics of Whole Systems:
Systems Design and Ethical Practice."

LSS 2007 SP will take place at the University of Lugano from June 18 to 29, 2007, and will adopt a conference format, although it will still be a Summer School for mature participants aiming to produce some publishable academic work and to acquire a certificate. Publication opportunities will include a Post-Summer School book, to be published in a distinguished new book series by a major academic publisher.

Currently, it has not been decided whether LSS 2007 SP will be offered in addition to, or rather in the place of, a normal Summer School. Details to be published soon!
[ 27 FEB 2006 ]

LSS 2006: Registration is now open

Following the successful new format of LSS 2005, the Summer School of 2006 will again be held as a Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School.  As in 2005, SSM and CSH will be introduced by their originators, Professors Peter B. Checkland (Lancaster, UK) and Werner Ulrich (Fribourg, Switzerland, and Open University, UK), and the format will be one for mature researchers and professionals. A new option is that participants can commit themselves to prepare and present a paper for subsequent publication, in which they explain the way they plan to integrate SSM and CSH into their current major project of research or professional practice. Publication will be facilitated in cooperation with the Journal of Research Practice or other journals. The minimum number of participants will be 15, the maximum 20. For details of the academic program, see the page "Academic Program" of this site. For application and registration deadlines, consult the page "Admission, Tuition & Fees."
[12  NOV 2005, updated 26 JAN 2006 ]

 LSS 2006

Doctoral and Postdoctoral Summer School on Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) and Critical Systems Heuristics (CSH) will be held from 29th May to 9th June 2006 *
at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano, Switzerland

* Dates changed to 18-29 September 2006
(see announcement "LSS 2006: Change of Dates" above)

[12  NOV 2005; change of dates 17 MAR 2006 ]

Announcements 2005

LSS 2005 Last-minute confirmation  The start of this year's Doctoral Summer School will take place as announced on Monday 30 May 2005 at 9:15 a.m. in Room 251 of the Main Building of the University of Italian Switzerland (USI) in Lugano. There are no changes of time or location. Please make sure you are there on time, so that we can open the session punctually.
See you soon in Lugano!  
[20 MAY 2005]

LSS 2005 Progress Report 2  [23  APR 2005 ]

Confirmation:  LSS 2005 will take place as planned.

Enrollmen t:  The enrollment currently is 16 participants (1 of which to be confirmed), all of which are very well qualified. All are either PhD students or else have already completed their PhD and are teaching or research staff, mainly in the fields of management and information systems design.

Origin of participants:  The participants are coming from Australia (3), Austria (3), Germany (2), England (1), New Zealand (1), Sweden (2), Switzerland (1), The Netherlands (1), and USA (2).

Start of the Summer School:  According to current planning, the Summer School will start on Monday morning, the 30th of May 2005, at 9:15 a.m. in Room No. 251. This room is in the main building of the University della Svizzera Italiana (USI) in Lugano. The following photograph shows you what kind of building to look for.

USI main entrance © 2005 LSS How to find the Universit y:  The main building / main entrance of USI Lugano is on Via Giuseppe Buffi 13. To find Via G. Buffi, see the electronic city map of Lugano on the page "Additional Information" of this site (click on the link marked "Interactive city map"). In this map, you will find Via G. Buffi in quadrant D4.* Note that the USI main building is still marked "Centrocivico," as the map is apparently older than the University.  (* Source: Official web site of the City of Lugano. Reproduced with permission.)

I recommend that when you arrive in Lugano, one of the first things to do is to buy the official city map of Lugano. You can do so at any kiosk or bookshop, including the kiosk at the train station; the map is called "pianta della città" in Italian language and comes with a street index (scale 1:12'000, with a detail map of 1:6000 for the city center). It is particularly useful because it also shows the bus lines.


How to find USI Room No. 25 1:  Enter through the main entrance on Via G. Buffi. Below (on the right) you can find a picture that shows you how the main entrance looks (not possible if you have your email client's setting on "text only"). Turn left and you will find the room at the same level as the main entrance. Be sure to check the page "Current Announcements" of the School web site shortly before Monday 30 May, as this is the place where I will announce any short-term changes that might become necessary.

Have an enjoyable and safe trip to Switzerland. I look forward to meeting you at USI Lugano. - Prof. W. Ulrich, Director LSS
[23  APR 2005 ]

  LSS 2005 Progress Report 1  I am pleased to report that the minimum number of participants for running this year's new Doctoral Summer School has been reached already in February. Those who have applied and have been admitted can thus be certain that the event will take place as planned. Thanks to everyone who registered in due time and thus enabled me to make sure early-on that LSS 2005 can be realized. – As of 5 April 2005, a very few places are still available; if you are considering the option of attending LSS 2005 but haven't registered thus far, you need to act now. Thank you.
[19 FEB 200 5/ updated 5 APR 2005 ]

LSS becomes sponsor of another initiative to serve young researchers  The Lugano Summer School has become one of the first sponsors of a promising new on-line journal, the Journal of Research Practice (JRP). The journal covers topics that should be of interest to participants of the Summer School; in particular, it aims to encourage inter- and transdisciplinary research that goes beyond conventional disciplinary boundaries and is committed to reflective practice.   Moreover, JRP is committed to an open-access philosophy of electronic publishing, a channel for distributing and exchanging research strongly supported by the School. Everyone interested will be able to view and download all articles published in JRP for free (a circumstance that also makes the journal attractive to contributing authors). This is why the Journal depends on innovative ways of financing itself, such as sponsorships by supporting institutions. It goes without saying that no commercial interest is involved in the School's sponsorship. Interested? Have a look at JRP's web site (just click on JRP's logo below).
[19 FEB 2005]

Revised recommendations for academic credits  Due to a systematic calculation error, the number of credit points recommended for the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) as well as for the British and the North American credit points systems, had been too low. All recommendations should have been by a factor of 1.5 higher. The recommendations have now been corrected; see the page " Workload, Class Schedule, Grading, Certificate, Credits."
[10 JAN 2005]

Enrollment is now open for LSS 2005  The new Doctoral Summer School (LSS 2005) is now being publicized and the first registrations have come in. The first few participants have already been admitted. If you consider attending LSS 2005, take your time to consider this option carefully – there is no need to rush – but do not wait too long either, as the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 25.
[4 DEC 2004]

Comments received  We have received a number of very encouraging, even enthusiastic, comments on the new focus and format of LSS 2005. To cite just one of them, representative of many others: "I am sure the event will be oversubscribed, it is a fantastic opportunity for any PhD student." (D. Champion, The Systemist, UK). Whether oversubscribed or not, I do hope (and trust) we'll have a sufficient number of well-prepared and well-motivated participants, so that I can continue the new Lugano Summer School tradition initiated in 2001. I look forward to Lugano 2005! Werner Ulrich, Director LSS.
[4 DEC 2004]

Updated School web site  The site has now been updated so as to reflect the new aim and format of the Summer School. Please consult it regularly to remain informed about possible changes, and recommend it to other people who may be interested in this educational offer. Thank you. 
[20 NOV 2004]

NEW: LSS 2005 will be a Doctoral Summer School!

Alea iacta est the die is cast!  Of the two options for LSS 2005 previously considered, the Doctoral Summer School project has been chosen. The idea of developing LSS towards a Doctoral Summer School has met with favorable reactions on the part of all those consulted, including the Faculty of LSS. The length of the Doctoral Summer School will be reduced to two weeks (ten week days with a free weekend in between); the didactic format will be a combination of taught classes (introductory courses) and workshops (discussion sessions). Participants will be expected to contribute actively, as one of the learning goals will be that participants develop their individual framework for integrating SSM and CSH in their future research and professional practice.

Faculty for 2005:  Professors Peter Checkland, Lancaster, UK, and Werner Ulrich, Fribourg, Switzerland.

Target group:  The new Summer School format as it is now planned should be of interest to many mature students or research and teaching staff who would like to get a first-hand understanding of contemporary soft and critical systems approaches, as represented by SSM and CSH. For the first time in the history of systems education, SSM and CSH will be introduced and discussed together by their two originators, with a special view to integrating the two approaches. Doesn't this promise to become a very interesting and worthwhile Summer School indeed?

Dates:  LSS 2005 will take place from Monday 30 May to Friday 10 June 2005. As in previous years, the Summer School will be held at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano.

Tuition fee:  The tuition will be CHF 2500. At current exchange rates, this corresponds to about EUR 1650 or USD 2150 (indicative price only - the price in Swiss Francs is relevant).

Number of participants:  A minimum of 15 participants will be required to organize LSS 2005 in the new format. Early applications are essential. A number of 20 participants will be envisaged; no more than 25 participants will be admitted.

New Summer School flyer:  For a short summary of the Summer School project, please refer to the new Summer School Flyer. The flyer comes as a PDF file that is easy to print out (2 pages) as well as to forward by email. Please post it on appropriate message boards or forward it to colleagues or friends, collaborators or fellow students who might be interested. Thank you.

If you would like to consider participating in LSS 2005 and need to apply for funding from your University, you may wish to use the Flyer as a minimal documentation that you can enclose with your application.  
[18 NOV 2004]

Options for LSS 2005 – a call for feedback


For the coming year, I am considering to organize a "Doctoral Summer School" on contemporary systems thinking approaches, either in addition or (more likely) as an alternative to the "normal" Summer School of past years. The event would be shorter, between ten and fourteen days (current planning: ten weekdays and a free weekend in between), and the format would come closer than in the past to a workshop format. One specific idea is that Professor Peter Checkland and I would each offer an introductory course on "soft" and "critical" systems approaches, respectively, and we would then jointly with the participants try to work out similarities and differences of the two approaches as well as consider ways to integrate the two in our professional practice.

Dates currently envisaged are 9-20 May or 30 May-10 June 2005; other dates (e.g. in September) are conceivable.

It would help me in planning such an event if potential participants would let me know of their interest and offer their suggestions. I would also welcome to hear from academic partner institutions that might be interested in offering such a workshop to their research students or collaborators on a regular basis. 

I will be grateful for all expressions of interests, hints or suggestions. Please get in touch with me soon. If you do not have my email address, you find a contact link on the "Contact" page of the Summer School site. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Werner Ulrich, Director LSS. 
[19 OCT 2004, updated 26 Oct 2004]

Announcements 2004

LSS 2004 cancelled

The application deadline has passed without a sufficient number of registrations being reached. For this reason, LSS 2004 has been cancelled. I regret any inconvenience this may cause to those participants who already registered. 

THE NEXT SUMMER SCHOOL WILL BE ORGANIZED IN 2005    If you intended to participate in this year's Summer School, please consider applying for 2005. Information about LSS 2005 will be posted here as soon as possible. Thank you.  
[10 APRIL 2004] 

Obituary Notice: Professor C.W. Churchman, Pioneer of the "systems approach" at the University of California, Berkeley, died

We are mourning the death of one of the outstanding pioneers of systems thinking. C. West Churchman, the grand old man of the systems approach, died on 21 March 2004 in Bolinas, California. He was 90 years old. He was one of the founding fathers of the fields of operations research / management science and, at the same time, one of the most important philosophers of a systems approach to the management of human affairs. His work pointed far beyond the systems-theoretic and "hard" systems thinking paradigms of his epoch and paved the way for the development of "soft" and "critical" systems thinking. For more information, see here.  
[26 MARCH 2004]


The format of the Lugano Summer School is changing for 2004

Due to the decline of the US Dollar against the Swiss Franc and the Euro, it has become necessary to search for a new format of the Lugano Summer School. A number of options have been examined for reducing costs to overseas participants. As a result, the following changes will apply to LSS 2004. In order to reduce accommodation costs, the length of the Summer School will be reduced to two and a half weeks. In order to reduce expenditures for the School's international faculty, only three of the four core courses of the past three years will be offered in 2004 (48 taught classes, total workload of 72 hours).

These two measures allow a reduction of the tuition fee from previously CHF 2750 (or USD 2200 at current exchange rates) to CHF 2250 (USD 1800 at current exchange rates). Standard accommodation will now be available for CHF 625 (USD 500) rather than the previous CHF 1000 (USD 800 at current exchange rates). As before, a small number of individual and/or superior quality accommodation will be made available; for details see the page "Facilities and Accommodation" of this web site.

Other good news: the option of moving the School to another country will not be pursued any further for the time being, as the University of Lugano offers us excellent conditions and the beauty of the Lugano region is part of the attraction of the Summer School.

Finally, the didactic format of the Lugano Summer School will equally change. It will be oriented more to the needs of mature participants (research students at the Masters and doctoral levels and practicing professionals). Undergraduate students will need to demonstrate a higher level of preparation than previously required and will need to have completed at least three years of study with a good to very good average qualification. In order to encourage an active learning style, the maximum number of participants will be reduced to 35-40. Depending on the wishes of participants, it is planned to develop the format of the Summer School increasingly towards a workshop style in which participants are expected to participate actively, e.g., by presenting work of their own. 
[20 FEB 2004] 

Announcing LSS 2004

    LSS 2004: The Fourth International Summer School of Systems Design will be held in Lugano, Switzerland, from mid-June to end of June or early July 2004

    Location: University of Italian Switzerland, Lugano, Switzerland

    Dates: 17 June - 2 July or 14 - 29 June 2004 (definite dates to be announced)

    Deadline for applications: 31 March 2004

    Deadline for definitive registration (including payment): 15 April 2004

    Minimum number of participants: 25
    Note: Should the minimum number of participants not be reached by 31 March 2004, the Summer School will be cancelled.

    Maximum number of participants: 35-40

 [20 FEB 2004, updated 23 Feb 2004]

Announcements 2003

LSS 2003 is gone ... The Third Lugano Summer School took place from the 16th of June to the 11th of July 2003 in Lugano with a record number of 58 participants. All courses went well; the new format gave more time for exercises in class, although it meant the total time of presence in class was higher than in the previous years. This year's class was very homogenous; all participants passed without difficulty and could at the end receive their well-earned diploma. Lugano spoiled us with four weeks of the most beautiful summer weather that Europe has to offer; it was the sunniest and hottest summer on record since 250 years. I would like to thank all the LSS staff for once again contributing high-quality courses to the Summer School, and all the participants for investing four weeks of time and work in making the Summer School a successful learning experience. For those among you who like to keep their memories fresh, I have put together a small selection of pictures in the Participants' Album. Please keep sending those beautiful pictures of yours. Werner Ulrich, LSS Director, 27 July 2003. 
[27 JULY 2003] 

Room change for opening session  The Summer School will start on Monday morning, 16th of June 2003, in room A32 rather than Aula 200. This room is located in the upper floor of the new lecture rooms building, a red building situated immediately behind the main building of the University. 
[3 JUNE 2003] 

Prospectus for participants out  The Summer School Prospectus 2003 has been sent out to all confirmed participants. It aims to offer some information that participants may find useful in preparing their trip to, and stay in, Lugano. Make sure to bring along both the electronic file and a hard copy for later reference once you are in Lugano. Should you not have received the Prospectus by now, please email to the School Director or, if you are a participant from the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM), to your internal program coordinator.
[1 JUNE 2003]

  The Summer School is now definitely booked up for 2003.   No more places are available for the present year. The Summer School received a record number of around 60 applications, not all of which could be accepted. Please do no longer apply for LSS 2003 but instead consider attending LSS 2004. By applying early, you can make sure that a place will be available for you, provided of course that your qualifications and experience allow you to be admitted. As an added benefit of planning ahead in due time, early birds who register and pay before 1st of February will again be offered reduced tuition and accommodation fees (for details, see the pages "Admission, Tuition & Fees" and "Facilities, Accommodation").
[12 MAY 2003]

Summer School nearly booked up!  The registration deadline is past and the Summer School is virtually booked out for this year. Fifty participants have been registered thus far. This is the maximum number of participants that the School can admit this summer (a maximum of 40 was planned originally). A few places may still become free due to participants that have to withdraw for health or other reasons; inquire before applying. A big "thank you" to all those participants who put their trust in the Lugano Summer School and registered in due time.
[12 APR 2003]

Extended teaching program  For didactic reasons, as well as to make it easier for participants to receive academic credit for attending the Summer School, the schedule of classes has been extended. The standard format of taught sessions will be four rather than three hours (with two coffee breaks), so that more time is available for practical exercises and discussions in class. The total workload will increase from 80 to 98 hours, of which 66 hours will be taught classes (lectures, seminars, and computer lab sessions). As before, participants will be expected to do some 8 hours of homework for each course, in the form of assignments (reading and practical exercises or cases) that will be evaluated for those participants wishing to receive a diploma (total of 32 hours).
[25 FEB 2003]

Special seminar sessions for ITESM students  For participants from the Monterrey Institute of Technology (ITESM), additional afternoon and Friday morning sessions will be organized to allow these participants to meet their University's changed requirements for the accreditation of Summer Schools. ITESM students will thus have an occasion to do a research project in one of two seminar streams, either on systems methodology or on systems planning. This will allow them to receive full academic credit for two out of three required subjects of their study program: (a) in Systems Design and (b) in Systems Methodologies or Systems Planning, according to their preference.
[25 FEB 2003]

Funding Want to improve your prospects for funding? Presenting a paper at a conference may be a possibility for some participants to get funding from their universities. Here is a selection of conferences that take place in Europe between end of May and early August 2003 and which may be of interest to Summer School participants:

[1 MAR 2003 / 24 FEB 2003]

Changed URL of the School web site  The web address of the Lugano Summer School has changed from to . Links to the old home page continue to work, they are being redirected automatically to the new address. However, to ensure that all your bookmarks for specific pages of the School web site continue to work properly, you should memorize these pages anew.
[04 FEB 2003]

Price reduction!  Tuition and fees are due in Swiss Francs (CHF). Since the time when the tuition and fees were originally calculated, the Swiss Francs has steadily gained in value as compared to all major currencies such as the US dollar (USD), the EURO, and others. Unfortunately, this circumstance has made the Summer School more expensive for most participants, particularly for those coming from countries with comparatively weak currencies. To take this situation into account, the Summer School has decided to reduce the tuition from originally CHF 3000 to CHF 2750 (approximately USD 2000). For those applicants who register and pay by 1 February 2003, the tuition has been further reduced from CHF 2700 to CHF 2500 (approx. USD 1850). The fees for the different types of accommodation have been similarly reduced, too (see the page " Facilities and Accommodation"). The new prices are valid immediately (as of 20 January 2003). All applicants who have already submitted their registration will equally benefit of the reduced prices, of course.
[22 JAN 2003]

Returning faculty member  Professor Hans Daellenbach of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, will return to LSS 2003 and will contribute a new version of his much-appreciated introductory course of LSS 2001. Author of Systems and Decision Making (Wiley, Chichester and New York, 1994; revised partial edition REA Publications, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2001) and editor of The Informed Student Guide to Management Science (Thomson, London, 2002), Hans Daellenbach is one of the few outstanding academic teachers and practitioners who not only have a comprehensive grasp of both quantitative and qualitative techniques of problem structuring and solving but also systematically embed these tools in a framework of contemporary systems thinking. Nobody would be better prepared to introduce the Summer School participants to the basics of problem structuring and systems thinking. Welcome back, Hans!
[20 NOV 2002]

Summer School Prospectus 2003  A new edition of the Summer School Prospectus will be prepared in due time for LSS 2003. All participants whose admission has been confirmed will receive the new Summer School Prospectus. It will offer detailed information that may be useful to participants in preparing their stay in Lugano.
[22 JAN 2003]

Announcements 2002

Summer School Memories A Glance Back at LSS 2002 ... 

Lugano lake impressions

Photography: W Ulrich © 2002 LSS / W Ulrich

p_palmtree.gif   Summer School memories …  According to all the feedback received, the Lugano Summer School 2002 was an enjoyable and successful event. The academic program was first class indeed and offered a perfect mixture between study and leisure. Despite the academic effort that certainly was required from everyone involved, the four weeks of the Summer School were characterized by a joyful and friendly mood among staff and participants. We all had lots of fun and many memorable moments, didn't we? So many wonderful memories and new friendships remain alive. My warmest thanks go to all staff and participants for making this a very worthwhile  event indeed. – Werner Ulrich, LSS Director [10 AUG 2002]

p_palmtree.gif Grades 2002  In 2002, all participants achieved a passing grade and thus were able to receive their diploma. Congratulations to all! Details about your grading, with the specific grades assigned to you in each course, will be emailed to all participants shortly.[10 AUG 2002]

p_palmtree.gif   Pictures of LSS 2002  A selection of pictures of this year's Summer School has been published in the section " Pictures from LSS 2002" of the School website. [10 AUG 2002]

Piazza della Riforma -- heart of Lugano's city center  

p_palmtree.gif Participants' photo album now online!  A page with pictures sent in by participants is now online on a separate server (Geocities) and will continue to grow in future; click here or in the left-hand menu. If you would like to contribute, please see the previous announcement of 1 August 2002 just below. [10 AUG 2002]

p_palmtree.gif Send in your best pictures!  All participants and staff are cordially invited to send their favorite pictures. The best of these will be published in an additional picture section. Please email them in digital form (JPEG format, ideally 50-100 KB) to the School's email address (use the link on the " Contact" page, please). Short videos (MPEG format) are welcome too. Thank you for contributing to the School web site by sharing your pictures! [1 AUG 2002]

p_palmtree.gif Give us feedback!  All staff and participants are cordially invited to give me their comments and suggestions for further improving the program of the Summer School. For example, what did you like most and what least in this year's event? All comments are welcome and will be treated confidentially. Please use the  " Feedback" section of this web site for this purpose. [1 AUG 2002]

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