Social Complexity & Networks

Faculteit University College Groningen
Jaar 2019/20
Vakcode UCGSS215
Vaknaam Social Complexity & Networks
Niveau(s) bachelor
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I b

Uitgebreide vaknaam Social Complexity & Networks
Leerdoelen Students participating in this course acquire knowledge of the basic theories of social complexity and networks, and methods (agent based simulation) to explore the social dynamics of societal phenomena. After the course the students are capable of describing a societal phenomenon in terms of social dynamics, and develop ideas on (theoretically) modelling a social complex phenomenon.
Omschrijving Polarisations and conflicts in society on how to deal with migration and refugees, changing our food system towards a more sustainable plant-based system, and developing sustainable transport ideas in cities are examples of social complex phenomena. Social complexity increasingly is acknowledged as a highly relevant approach in understanding the dynamics of such societal phenomena. The common denominator In such systems is that the behaviour of many individuals (micro-level) aggregates into societal phenomena (macro-level), that in turn affect individual behaviour. Social networks describe how individuals relate to each other, depend on each other and influence each other in such conditions.

The course will start with an introduction in the paradigm of complex systems, and address the basics of self-organisation, turbulence and the (un)predictability of social systems. Following that, a number of specific cases illustrating essential elements of social complex systems and their networks will be addressed. Some examples are (1) what makes people sometimes deplete renewable resources, such as fish-stocks and forests, (2) the processes that lead to polarisation and conflict in societies, for example related to the issue of migration and acculturation, (3) how the city of Groningen succeeded to become a cycling city, and how other cities learn from that, and (4) how new behaviours and practices such as changing to a plant-based diet spread through society. Exercises with the newest computer simulations will allow for experimenting with social dynamics

Weekly individual assignments will focus on critically reading and reflecting on literature, and on reporting on modelling exercises. A group assignment will focus on analysing a societal phenomenon from a social complexity & network perspective.
Uren per week 4
Onderwijsvorm Lecture
(Lecture - workshops - discussion meetings)
Toetsvorm Essay
(Weekly short reflections + group assignment)
Vaksoort bachelor
Coördinator dr. W. Jager
Docent(en) dr. W. Jager
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
a selection of articles
Opmerkingen This course counts as either a Humanities course or a Social Sciences course
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
Culture and Social Change  (Electives Year 2) - semester I b verplicht
Liberal Arts and Sciences  (Year 2) - semester I b keuze
Societies and Cultures in Transition  (Compulsory) - semester I b verplicht