The Complex World

As civilization transforms from the industrial to the information age, the way we think about society and our role in it changes:

• Economic and social institutions are changing: healthcare, education, military.
• Professional activities from management to engineering require new insights and skills.
• Global challenges in the environment and the human condition become pressing.

Understanding these changes and providing new approaches is part of the activities of the New England Complex Systems Institute.

NECSI has developed an approach to understanding complex systems involving:

• the mechanisms of collective behavior (patterns),
• a multiscale perspective (the way different observers describe a system),
• the evolutionary process that creates complex systems, and
• the nature of purposive or goal directed behavior.

Whether talking about biological molecules or corporations, these interwoven approaches help us classify complex systems, recognize their functional capabilities and develop a context in which their strengths and weaknesses can be evaluated. These insights are particularly useful in the context of social change and global challenges.

Use the links on the left to see how complex systems science has improved our understanding of a variety of social, economic and technological systems.

For more about the increasing complexity of our world, please also see:

Making Things Work
Yaneer Bar-Yam, Knowledge Press, 2005.

Complexity Rising: From Human Beings to Human Civilization, a Complexity Profile
Yaneer Bar-Yam

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