People, Networks and Neighbours: Understanding Social Dynamics

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Explore a new way of approaching questions about social behaviour

This three-week course will help you understand why social processes seem so unpredictable and understand better the basics of social dynamics. It’s designed to show you 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.

Understand how micro behaviours can lead to unexpected results for a group or society

You’ll gain an understanding of how the behaviour of individuals can lead to unexpected results on a group or societal level. You’ll also explore a new way of looking at social phenomena by focussing on underlying mechanisms, and will investigate how models can help decipher social processes.

Explore how similar social processes occur across different contexts

You’ll also explore how similar social processes occur across different contexts, and will experiment with a simple pen-and-paper model and a computer simulation of a social mechanism. Finally, you’ll identify the opportunities that computational social sciences (CSS), especially modelling and simulations, offer for understanding social processes.

Experiment with models and simulations - without any prior mathematical or programming skills

Throughout the course 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!

This course is designed for anyone who is interested in understanding human behaviour, especially in how different social processes work.

It will be particularly useful for professionals dealing with situations where social change takes place (or is desirable) and where social influences play a role, such as in the context of public policy, business, marketing, and healthcare.

If you are studying social sciences and are curious how computational approach works, this course will be particularly helpful. And if you are an academic teacher with no prior experience with this approach yet and you’re considering enriching your own courses, we encourage you both to take the course, and to use the materials for your students.