Understanding the Environment: Complexity and Chaos

Course Level 2: Intermediate

Estimated Study Time: 12-14 hours

There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. The primary aim of this course is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human-centered thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview.

Our cognitive limitations makes it difficult for many of us to perceive the complex and unpredictable dynamics of wicked problems as they evolve over time. Increasingly accessible computer hardware and software is allowing us to directly engage with this complexity and unpredictability so as to allow us to make better decisions. In this course you will be exploring the unpredictable nature of dynamic, non-linear systems by simulating several simple population dynamics models using Netlogo, a free software tool. You will then propose your own model describing the dynamics of a complex situation of your choosing, and find data to support your model.

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Course Content