Course content

This page details the course content, particularly the required readings each week.

Content for each topic

What Are Universities For?

Supplementary Resources

Interdisciplinary thinking

  • 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

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  • 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

Behaviour of complexity

  • 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

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Speaker Notes

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

Space & Time

  • 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.

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Slides from presenters

Complex Narratives

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Speaker Notes

Visualising Complexity

  • 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

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

Speaker Slides

Social Complexity

  • 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

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Framing complex problems

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Examples of framing problems better:

Slides & Handouts

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

Complex identities

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..

Complexity and the arrow of time

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Speaker Notes…

Scenario planning

Students’ choice: contemporary complex problems

End-of-semester picnic