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Living in a complex world

In this video, we introduce the course People, Networks and Neighbours: Understanding Social Dynamics.

Welcome to the course People, Networks and Neighbours: Understanding Social Dynamics.

Within the next three weeks you will learn why social processes seem so unpredictable and understand better the basics of social dynamics. You will have a chance to explore a new interesting way of approaching questions about social behaviour. Throughout, you’ll focus on social mechanisms and will explore how models and simulations can help to understand those mechanisms. During the next three weeks you will be investigating some simple social processes with the help of models that illustrate how humans behave and how they influence each other. For that we will use examples, animations and game-like tools – no mathematical and programming skills are required!

Each week of the course has a specific focus:

  • Week 1: Recipe for revolution: How micro behaviours lead to macro outcomes and how unexpected things can happen on the way -> you will learn why social processes seem so unpredictable and how to build a simple model of a social process
  • Week 2: Conformity, friends and networks -> you will explore how relations and networks impact social processes and you will a have a quick glance at Social Network Analysis
  • Week 3: Neighbours, flags and a bird’s eye view -> you will experience how simulations work and play with a simple spatial model.

Each week you will learn by engaging in different activities, such as watching videos, undertaking quizzes, reading articles, doing exercises and discussing topics related to social dynamics with other learners.

What will you learn?

At the end of the course you should be able to:

  • explain how behaviour of individuals can lead to unexpected results on a group or societal level
  • describe a new way of looking at social phenomena, focussing on underlying mechanisms
  • discuss how models can help decipher social processes
  • argue how similar social processes are present across different contexts
  • describe how modelling works, both with a simple pen-and-paper model and computer simulation of a social mechanism
  • identify the opportunities that computational models offer for understanding social processes

Share with others

We are looking forward to your contributions in the comment sections. Also, consider joining us on social media to build the debate. For those of you who use Twitter, the hashtag #FLsocialdynamics will help you to share ideas and experiences of the course. Don’t forget to check your privacy settings before posting anything to the course hashtag, to ensure you are happy.

More on social dynamics, modelling and simulations

This course is a part of ACTiSS – an educational initiative Action for Computational Thinking in Social Sciences – if you’re interested in the project, please check out our website.

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People, Networks and Neighbours: Understanding Social Dynamics

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