Complex Science for a Complex World

Exploring Human Ecosystems with Agents
Edited by:
ISBN (print): 1 920942 38 6
ISBN (online): 1 920942 39 4
Publication date: August 2006
Imprint: ANU Press

It is well known that human activities are endangering the stability and sustainability of many fragile ecosystems to such an extent that their future is in doubt. At the same time, these ecosystems are inherently challenging to manage successfully because of the complexity and uncertainty associated with their ongoing evolution. Much of this complexity and uncertainty may be attributed to the human dimension. Thus it is imperative that we deepen our understanding of how and why people choose to interact with one another and how this interactive behaviour affects these ecosystems as time passes.

Fortunately, a new kind of science is helping us deepen our understanding of how human ecosystems might grow and change over time. Beyond a mere collation of various reflections and applications, the chapters in this book aim to convince the reader that this new kind of science is worthy of our attention. It is a science that fully embraces the complexity of our surrounding world. It is also a science that addresses the frontiers of interactions between human behaviour and environmental responses. Furthermore, it is a science that challenges our limited understanding and treatment of uncertainty. And finally, because it is socially embedded, it is a science that can generate partnerships with local communities in a constructive manner.

We hope that you will enjoy the reading of such a diverse ‘ouvrage’ whose purpose is to attract more early career scientists into our field of research and to convince decision-makers that a growing contingent of colleagues working on complexity theory can provide useful tools and methods to better understand complex and adaptive environments. It is time to reassure you (the reader) that the rise of a ‘Complex Science for a Complex World’ doesn’t mean more complicated relationships between science and society.

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