Guns, germs, and steel on the sugarscape: introducing undergraduates to agent based simulation
Bentley College Mathematical Sciences Department
Last modified: April 25, 2006
Even while researchers make great progress in developing tools and insights for complex systems analysis, there is a challenge in how to introduce students to various aspects of this field. This may be especially true for students in liberal arts and business fields, where they are less likely than science or engineering students to have previous experience with computer model development, and also for students at the undergraduate level, who are less capable of acquiring expertise independently. This presentation will discuss a course offered at Bentley College with the title Mathematical Perspectives on the Evolution of World Order. Following two tracks in parallel, one on “real” societies and their evolution over long and short time frames (e.g., Guns, Germs, and Steel, and The Tipping Point), and one on “artificial” societies (Epstein and Axtell’s Sugarscape), the course requires the students to work in pairs to develop their own Sugarscape models in Netlogo and to use them to investigate the various processes that influence the evolution of human society.