Unravelling Complexity Class Guide

Print-friendly version of the class schedule.

Wk 1: What Are Universities For?

Panel Overview

The opening panel will introduce you to the course, with a number of guest panellists. Please come having done the reading (each week).

Resources

Supplementary Resources

Wk 2: Interdisciplinary thinking

Panel Overview

In this panel we’ll explore how to effectively work in a team with people from different disciplines and with different worldviews, and plan for the future.

Speaker

Dr Steve Cork (ANU Researcher Profile)
Adjunct Professor, Crawford School of Public Policy

Resources

  • The Black Swan by Nicholas Taleb Read the interesting parts in the prologue
    how to think about unknown unknowns
  • Disciplining Interdisciplinarity by Gabriele Bammer (Preface only) (Whole bookRead p3-13 +.
    building a discipline for interdisciplinarity to solve challenging problems

You might also like…

  • Steve Cork’s 2009 panel (YouTube) (Downloadable versions)
  • Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination, by Val Brown (Chapters 1 and 2)
    this was set as some preliminary reading, but is worth revisiting in light of Gabriele’s talk

Speaker Notes

Wk 3: Behaviour of complexity

Panel Overview

Complex behaviour is not complicated. However, simple rules can lead to very complex behaviour. We’ll cover topics such as emergence, evolution, chaos, feedback, networks and game theory.

Speakers

Professor Lindell Bromham (Website) (ANU Researcher Profile)
Research School of Biology

Dr Shayne Flint (ANU Website) (ANU Researcher Profile)
ANU College of Engineering & Computer Science

Resources

  • Complexity: A Guided Tour (Preface, Chapter 1) by Melanie Mitchell (Preface, Chapter 1)
    gives a good overview of complex behaviour, including some examples of where you see it
  • Making things work (Overview, Chapter 1 and conclusion) by Yaneer Bar-Yam
    looks at the building blocks of complex behaviour

You might also like…

Speaker Notes

The DLD didn’t work this week (university-wide problem), but here are the slides:

Wk 4: Space & Time

Panel Overview

Making sense of space and time is its own complex problem.  We’ll look at how to different disciplines conceptualise space and time, and how that fits into our universe.

Speakers

Dr. Paul Francis (ANU Researcher Profile) (Webpage)
ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

Dr. Joan Licata (Website) (ANU Researcher Page)
ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences

Resources

  • Fractals – Hunting the Hidden Dimensions [50 minutes, YouTube – watch it!] PBS program on Fractal geometry, including a brief history of Benoit Mandlebrot’s work – it’s everywhere, and don’t need knowledge of maths at all.
  • Explore at least two sections of the Big History Project (preferably including one of the early sections) The Big History Project is a free, online course that tells the story of our Universe and humanity.

You might also like…

Slides from presenters

Wk 5: Complex Narratives

Panel Overview

In this topic we’ll look at evidence from a range of interpretations, and how different disciplines generate hypotheses based on this evidence.

Speakers

Jane O'Dwyer More)
SCAPA, ANU

Prof. Matthew Gray
CAEPR

Resources

You might also like…

Speaker Notes

Wk 6: Visualising Complexity

Panel Overview

Getting the message through is an increasingly difficult problem, in the light of the 24-hour news cycle and shortening attention spans, especially if your argument is complex and nuanced.

Speakers

Dr Alison Munro (ANU Researcher Page) (SoA website)
School of Art

Dr Julie Brooke

Resources

  • Will Steffen on Alan Jones [mp3, 25min] Talking from two sides of a one-sided argument, Will Steffen talks climate science to and eventually with Alan Jones
  • The latest results of the Science Literacy survey, Academy of Science (Media Release) (Full Report) Some basic science facts are a mystery to some Australians
  • Use Art to Turn the World Inside-Out by JR [TED talk, 18min] French street artist JR shares his vision for a better world through art

You might also like…

  • The Fun Theory has a few interesting ways of engaging people – some try to demonstrate parts of complex problems

Speaker Slides

Wk 7: Social Complexity

Panel Overview

Understanding how people work and how to motivate people is important to work together to resolve complex problems. We’ll look at psychological and experiential perspectives to engage stakeholders.

Speaker

Prof. Mike Smithson (ANU Researcher Profile)
College of Medicine, Biology and Environment

Resources

  • The Prison Study Experiment (Open University podcast) (the study’s official website)
    Reicher and Haslam’s modern take on the Stanford Prison Experiment, exploring groups of unequal power 
  • Shared Vision by Peter Senge in The Fifth Discipline (Chapter 10 – PDF includes Ch11 if interested)
    moving from a personal vision to a shared visions requires more than a memo to your team

You might also like…

Wk 8: Framing complex problems

Panel Overview

In this session we’ll look at the concept of problem framing and using the past as a reference mode for looking to the future.

Speakers

Dr. Barry Newell (ANU Researcher Page)
Adjunct Associate Professor Research School of Engineering and Visiting Fellow Fenner School of Environment and Society

Dr Katrina Proust (ANU Researcher Page)
Fenner School of the Environment and Society

Resources

You might also like…

Examples of framing problems better:

Slides & Handouts

Share your thoughts – add resources on WATTLE for your peers to explore.

Wk 9: Complex identities

Panel Overview

Speakers

Prof. Gabriele Bammer (ANU Researcher Profile) (I2S Website)
Professor, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health

Prof. Joan Beaumont (AN)
Strategic and Defence Studies Centre

Resources

You might also like on different subjects…

  • Affluenza by Clive Hamilton & Richard Denniss (Chapter 1) perspectives of how we’re all keeping up with the Joneses
  • Abbott’s Bias Crusade by James Paterson and David Hill in The Age. perspectives on balance in the ABC’s reporting

Speaker Notes..

Wk 10: Complexity and the arrow of time

Panel Overview

In our last panel, we’re going to bring together many of the ideas from the course and look at ways we can navigate the future.

Speaker

Charley Lineweaver

Resources

You might also like…

Speaker Notes…

Wk 11: Scenario planning

Panel Overview

Speaker

Annette Zou
ThinkPlace

Wk 12: Students’ choice: contemporary complex problems

Panel Overview

Wk 13: End-of-semester picnic

Panel Overview

We’ll use this panel to draw some conclusions from the course. Please come along with your reflections.

Updated:  28 May 2014/ Responsible Officer:  VC's Courses Convener/ Page Contact:  VC's Courses Webmaster