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Experimenting with socio-ecological models

In this step we summarize some of the findings after working with socio-ecological models.
Socio-ecological model
© ACTISS

In this course you were introduced to the principles of socio-ecological models. By now you realise that the models you experimented with were super simple in many respects: the fisherman simulated were basically all the same, and their psychological lay-out was very simplistic. You can imagine that fishermen may be very different (heterogenous), as they may specialise in different fish species, may face different financial constraints (e.g. a mortgage on the ship), may be employees of a larger fishing company, and may differ in their knowledge of and perspective on ecological systems.

In the course Decision Making in a Complex World (starting Spring 2022) we will introduce you to how behavioural and psychological theory can be used to develop simulated people that behave more realistically. This opens a perspective in modelling the human dimension in socio-ecological systems in more detail, which may be important when studying strategies for interventions.

You also learned that it is possible to model ecological systems, and let simulated people interact with such systems. In the current simulation experiments we used a simple fish-growth function instead of a rich ecological model. Many models have been developed to explore the natural dynamics of complex ecological systems, and impacts of e.g. climate change, pollution and the building of infrastructure (e.g., windmills in fishing grounds). Adding human behaviour to such models opens new perspectives in studying how our species interacts in a wider network of other species (food chains). It would be possible to include for example market demands for certain natural resources as a result of changing consumer preferences. You could think of the current developments towards a more plant-based food system.

We hope you have experienced that computational social science allows us to formally connect the social sciences with other scientific disciplines through means of integrated simulation models. Considering that many of our societal challenges today require an interdisciplinary collaboration between different sciences, social computation is expected to become an important approach in adding social scientific research into interdisciplinary research of socio-ecological systems.

© ACTISS
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Understanding Human Behaviour: Introduction to Game Theory and Shared Resources

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