The Catalyst Institute For Applied Policy Presents
(2006 Quarterly Series)
Welcome the Catalyst Series on Complexity and Public Policy. The blunt policy instruments of the industrialized 19 th an 20 th centuries are inadequate to the challenges we face in the globalized 21 st century information age. New ways of defining problems and structuring solutions, as well as new forms of leadership are needed. An analytical framework uniquely suited to the complex interactive nature of the modern world is offered by complexity science. The purpose of this Forum is to promote and assist in the migration of the concepts and techniques of this new science to the social sciences in general and to the analysis and formulation of public policy in particular.
Current rigorous applications of complexity science to social systems are, at best, embryonic. There are even those who question the legitimacy of the pursuit. We have assembled the leading thinkers in this field to examine the assumptions, and to engage in dialogue with you about the possibilities that might be unleashed by this new way of thinking. Complexity science is inherently collaborative, and our hope is to engender an ongoing, mutually beneficial exchange between you, the policy experts, and these and other complexity scientists so that we can cooperatively discern the way forward. Note that it is not our objective to create analogies or mine the beautiful metaphors offered by complexity science (who among us has not heard of the butterfly effect, for example); rather our objective is to enable the rigorous migration of the concepts and techniques offered by complexity science to the analysis of social systems.
Again, we say to you, welcome! We hope you enjoy this Series, and that you use it as an opportunity to stimulate your best thinking on your most difficult challenges.
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"I think the next century will be the century of complexity"
San Jose Mercury News, 2000