Complex problems require a complex approach, according to a new research initiative from the UvA

Complex problems require a complex approach, according to a new research initiative from the UvA

“Complexity and interdisciplinarity do not fit well into the practices of policymakers,” Albert Faber of the Science Climate Council revealed in the middle of the opening session of the Science Climate Conference. Boulder. This is a research initiative of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in the presence of about forty policy makers and especially scientists in the Science Park.

Yet this is precisely what Boulder wants to achieve. The center aims to provide policymakers with tools from complexity theory, a relatively recent branch of science that describes systems that are difficult to predict due to all kinds of relationships and dependencies, in order to find solutions to complex problems.

Nitrogen, climate change, and the housing crisis, for example, are still often treated as separate problems, while there is a great deal of overlap. Boulder wants to change this by collaborating with as many disciplines, companies and organizations as possible, as well as by taking human behavior into account. In the case of nitrogen, the complexity theory calculation model relates not only to nitrogen, but also to farmers' behavior and groundwater levels.

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