Complexity and Development Seminar Series

Human beings and our societies are complex systems. Cities are complex systems. The development sector is a complex system. While we’ve made conceptual progress, and while being ‘complexity-aware’ in development interventions is gaining ground, what this really means in practice is still emerging. 

This seminar series aims to share cutting edge thinking and research being done at IDS and the University of Sussex around practically how we capture and account for complexity across a variety of sustainable development contexts. Speakers will present exciting innovations in research methodologies for seeing systems and making sense of complexity, including computational, participatory, and conceptual approaches.

Past Events

Simplexity2 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Complexity in Development

17 Apr 2018

This seminar is the fifth in a series that aims to share cutting edge thinking and research being done at IDS and the University of Sussex around how we practically capture and account for complexity across a variety of sustainable development contexts.

More details

Complexity & Development 2.0: From Agreeing We Should Adapt to Creating the Conditions that Enable Adaptation

13 Feb 2018

In this seminar, Yuen Yuen Ang urges that it's time to take our conversation on "complexity & development" to the next level: how to enable adaptation.

More details

Can pastoralists help us respond to global uncertainties?

09 Jan 2018

Uncertainties are everywhere: climate change, financial crises, migration flows, infrastructure development, disease outbreaks and more. Yet contemporary institutions and policy processes are poor at responding to and embracing uncertainties, where we don’t know about either the likely outcomes or their probabilities. Too often political, procedural and professional pressures force us to ignore uncertainties, constructing problems and solutions in terms of manageable risk. In this seminar, Ian Scoones argues that we can learn much from those who live daily with uncertainty and make use of it as a productive resource.

More details

A Complexity Based Approach to Scaling Development Impact

12 Dec 2017

Drawing on thinking in his book Navigating Complexity in International Development (Burns and Worsley, 2015) and a case study in Myanmar, Danny Burns argues for a ‘movement based approach’ to creating sustainable change at scale.

More details

Rigour for Complexity: An Invitation to Explore

31 Oct 2017

Starting with definitions of terms, this seminar will contrast two paradigms for learning and acting: a neo-Newtonian paradigm more fitting for standardised and predictable physical things and a complexity paradigm more fitting for diverse, emergent and unpredictable people and social processes.

More details