Analysing Complexity

About this course: The first course of the specialization ANALYZING COMPLEXITY will teach you what unifying patterns lie at the core of all complex problems. It advances your knowledge of your own field by teaching you to look at it in new ways. ANALYZING COMPLEXITY is constructed in the following way: Week I. "What is Complexity?" - What is at the core of all complex problems Week II. "Complex Physical Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in the inanimate world Week III. "Complex Adaptive Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in nature Week IV. "Complex Cultural Systems" - What complex problems all have in common in human society Week V. "Complexity, Fragility, and Breakdown" - Why complex problems arise Week VI. "Complexity in the Anthropocene" - What complex problems face us today

Who is this class for: This course is for everyone: from any level of expertise, any field, any industry, any discipline. And for good reason. It teaches skills that enhance your work and endeavours, regardless of who you are. If you want to perform better in your career, to innovate in your field, and to improve your future prospects - take this course!

Created by:  Macquarie University

  • David Baker
    Taught by:  David Baker, Associate Lecturer
    Big History Institute

  • David Christian
    Taught by:  David Christian, Professor
    Big History Institute

  • Shawn Ross
    Taught by:  Shawn Ross, Associate Professor
    Big History Institute
Basic Info
LevelBeginner
Language
English
How To PassPass all graded assignments to complete the course.
User Ratings
Average User Rating 4.6See what learners said
Syllabus
WEEK 1
What is complexity?
Welcome to the first course of our specialisation on solving complex problems! In this module, we will be looking at complexity in the broadest sense and how it relates to us. From there we will zoom in to different aspects of this universal and all-encompassing concept.
5 videos8 readings
  1. Video: Complexity
  2. Reading: Specialisation Assessment Overview
  3. Reading: A Preview of the Briefing Paper Assignment
  4. Reading: Assessment Overview for Course 1: Analysing Complexity
  5. Video: Defining Complexity as a Concept
  6. Reading: Resources
  7. Reading: Glossary
  8. Video: Complexity and Energy Flows
  9. Reading: Resources
  10. Reading: Glossary
  11. Video: Complex Systems
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: Assessments - Specialisation Overview
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 1
Graded: Short writing for Module 1: What is complexity?
WEEK 2
Complex Physical Systems
In this module, we'll look at how complexity operates in the inanimate universe, the corresponding links between physics, chemistry, and geology and how they reflect the ground rules of all forms of complexity. 
5 videos9 readings
  1. Video: Complexity in the Non-Living World
  2. Reading: Resources
  3. Reading: Glossary
  4. Video: Cosmic Complexity
  5. Reading: Resources
  6. Reading: Glossary
  7. Video: Chemical Complexity
  8. Reading: Resources
  9. Reading: Glossary
  10. Video: Planetary Complexity
  11. Reading: Resources
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: Complex Physical Systems
  14. Reading: Glossary
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 2
Graded: Short writing for Module 2: Complex physical systems
WEEK 3
Complex Adaptive Systems
In this module, we'll explore the ratcheting up of complexity inside adaptive systems, and the impact adaptation has on the rules of the game for constantly evolving complex systems. 
6 videos11 readings
  1. Video: Complex Adaptive Systems
  2. Reading: Resources
  3. Reading: Glossary
  4. Video: Dissipative Structures
  5. Reading: Resources
  6. Reading: Glossary
  7. Video: Cellular Complexity
  8. Reading: Resources
  9. Reading: Glossary
  10. Video: The Complexity of Brains
  11. Reading: Resources
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: Complex Ecosystems
  14. Reading: Resources
  15. Reading: Glossary
  16. Video: Adaptive Systems and Ecosystems
  17. Reading: Glossary
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 3
Graded: Short writing for Module 3: Complex adaptive systems
WEEK 4
Complex Cultural Systems
In this module, we'll look at an even more powerful adaptive system - culture. We'll survey what is at the root of this new form of complexity and how this impacts our thinking about how human society, the most complex system of which we are aware, functions and evolves.
6 videos11 readings
  1. Video: Human Complexity
  2. Reading: Resources
  3. Reading: Glossary
  4. Video: The Evolution of Language
  5. Reading: Resources
  6. Reading: Glossary
  7. Video: Social Complexity
  8. Reading: Resources
  9. Reading: Glossary
  10. Video: Linguistic Complexity
  11. Reading: Resources
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: Complexity Wealth and Consumption
  14. Reading: Resources
  15. Reading: Glossary
  16. Video: Complex Cultural Systems
  17. Reading: Glossary
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 4
Graded: Short writing for Module 4: Social complexity
WEEK 5
Complexity, Fragility, and Breakdown
In this module, we'll look at the decline of complexity. So far we've focused on how complex systems sustain or increase themselves. In order to truly understand every angle of all complex systems - physical, biological, and cultural - we need to understand how and when they collapse, and what all those breakdowns have in common.
7 videos13 readings
  1. Video: The Breakdown of Complexity
  2. Reading: Resources
  3. Reading: Glossary
  4. Video: The Breakdown of Stars and the Universe
  5. Reading: Resources
  6. Reading: Glossary
  7. Video: The Breakdown of Organic Chemicals
  8. Reading: Resources
  9. Reading: Glossary
  10. Video: The Breakdown of Species
  11. Reading: Resources
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: The Breakdown of Societies
  14. Reading: Resources
  15. Reading: Glossary
  16. Video: The Breakdown of Economies
  17. Reading: Resources
  18. Reading: Glossary
  19. Video: Fragility and Collapse
  20. Reading: Glossary
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 5
Graded: Short writing for Module 5: Limits to complexity
WEEK 6
Complexity in the Anthropocene
Now that we've explored the different kinds of complex systems and have some idea of the risks and dangers involved, this module will look at how these concerns impact us in the present Anthropocene epoch, where humanity faces many threats of decline and collapse amid the most complex system that we know of in the visible universe.
6 videos9 readings
  1. Video: The Anthropocene
  2. Reading: Resources
  3. Reading: Glossary
  4. Video: Measuring Sustainability in the Anthropocene
  5. Reading: Resources
  6. Reading: Glossary
  7. Video: Global Politics in the Anthropocene
  8. Reading: Resources
  9. Reading: Glossary
  10. Video: Population Health in the Anthropocene
  11. Reading: Resources
  12. Reading: Glossary
  13. Video: Increasing Complexity and the Anthropocene
  14. Reading: Glossary
  15. Video: The Final Assignment
Graded: Multiple Choice - Mod 6
Graded: Short writing for Module 6: Complexity in the Anthropocene
Graded: Final assignment for Course 1: Analysing Complexity
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