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Global Systems Science for policy

Science in a policy making context.

The diagram above shows the integration of policy and science in Global Systems Science that you first saw in Week 1. On the left and right of the diagram politicians and citizens decide what the issues are and which policies should address them.

The centre of the diagram is where policies are designed to satisfy policy objectives and constraints. Here policy makers, scientists, and (ideally) citizens work together to generate new policy ideas and test them using scientific methods.

Note that there are two branches back to formulating the objectives and constraints. The first occurs when no satisfactory policy objective can be found to satisfice the objectives and constraints. The second occurs when politicians and citizens reject the policy options put forward. Inevitably, not all politicians and citizens are involved in the policy generation and evaluation cycle at the centre of the diagram, and when a proposed policy emerges they may reject it. Then it’s back to the drawing board, revising the policy objectives and constraints.


Global Systems Science combines policy, science, informatics and citizen engagement. This provides a powerful approach to the difficult and uncertain future that lies ahead. However, we must not expect too much of Complex Systems Science and there are many questions that it is presently unable to answer. In the longer term this will change as scientists learn more about the unprecedented sources of data about social systems, and how to develop informatics systems that are useful to policy makers.

As always, one should not take science on trust, but even now the new science is giving insights into complex global systems that may help us make better policy decisions.

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This article is from the free online course:

Global Systems Science and Policy: an Introduction

UNESCO UNITWIN Complex Systems Digital Campus

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