Global Systems Science and Policy: an Introduction


Learn how Global Systems Science can inform and model the impact of social, economic, political and environmental policy making.

Why join the course?

Policy seeks desired outcomes given differing priorities and constraints. But which policy options will work? Working together for better outcomes, the elements of Global Systems Science are:

  1. Policy at all levels: from individuals to the world
  2. Complex Systems Science: a new, interdisciplinary approach to modelling social and physical systems
  3. Policy informatics: data science and computational modelling for policy
  4. Citizen engagement: societal behaviour emerges bottom-up in the context of top-down policy and individual citizens must be involved

We discuss and critically evaluate GSS.

What topics will you cover?

Global systems science has four main elements:

  • Policy problems at local and global scales
  • The transdisciplinary science of complex systems
  • Policy informatics
  • Citizen engagement

The course addresses the question of how policy makers can be confident that proposed policies will have the intended desirable outcomes and not have undesirable unintended consequences.

Social systems have multilevel dynamics and policies interact at all levels, from local to global. Complex systems science can help to formulate and design policies, and to investigate and evaluate their possible outcomes.

It does this through policy informatics, which makes its transdisciplinary theory operational through computer-based tools and new data sources enabled by information and communication technologies. These tools include computer simulation, visualisation and analytics for integrating large heterogeneous data sources.

Citizen engagement is a key feature of Global Systems Science to address the local and global instabilities that can arise when citizens are distant from the policy process. While science cannot provide solutions to all problems, Global Systems Science provides ways for citizens, policy makers and scientists to work together to address the increasingly complex problems of the modern world.


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