It’s a Complex World: Addressing Global Challenges (SYS 300) – Honors


Offering semester:
Spring 2019

T, Th 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm WALC 3121

Course description:

The main goal of this course is to use the ideas and tools of complex adaptive systems to address grand challenges that are of global concern-such as environmental sustainability and energy use, natural and human disasters, and political and economic development. The course exploits the broad expertise of the four faculty members by treating these challenges from diverse disciplinary perspectives, from the biological and physical sciences, to the social sciences, to engineering. Through case studies and computer simulation, students will analyze the features of these challenges which make them ‘complex,’ and seek to explain and find solutions to the problems that arise in each case. Their treatment of the cases will be informed by published research. Students will actively participate in discussions regarding these global challenges, and contribute to the progress of the class using oral and written presentations. The course will culminate with a final project.

Learning objectives:
SYS300 Course Flyer

1. Describe global challenges using engineering, biological, physical, and social scientific perspectives, including attention to the interdependence of the different perspectives.
2. Explain the fundamental concepts of ‘complex adaptive systems,’ including applications to different global challenges.
3. Develop basic proficiency in applying computer modeling to represent the behavior of complex systems, with applications to the global challenges.
4. Apply the concepts and tools of complexity research to develop a group-based project of comprehensive policies/solutions/strategies in a new and unresolved problem area.

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