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23 November, 2012

PhD Studentship Available: Context dependency in socio-environmental modelling

JHI PhD Supervisor: Dr G Polhill, JH Co-Supervisor: Dr A Girmona
CPM/MMU PhD Director of Studies: Dr Bruce Edmonds

Application Deadline: 15 January 2013

The studentship is jointly run by the JHI and the CPM/MMU.  The successful candidate will be based in Aberdeen, but will visit Manchester a few times a year.  The studentship is for 3 years and provides: (A) a stipend of £13,590 per year for living expenses per year (non-taxable) (B) 3 years PhD student fees (EU/UK student rate) (C) support for travel to Manchester (6 trips of 2-3 days duration a year) and/or international conferences up to a maximum total of £5130).  The PhD will be awarded by the MMU.  The JHI and the MMU will jointly provide training and support for the period of study.  The candidate must be willing to live near the JHI in Aberdeen, travel to Manchester for discussions and occasionally travel to international conferences. 

14 November, 2012

A hands-on introduction to Agent-Based Modelling for Social Scientists: Exploring Complex and Dynamic Social Processes

A hands-on introduction to Agent-Based Modelling for Social Scientists:
Exploring Complex and Dynamic Social Processes

Thursday 28 February - Friday 1 March 2013
Basement Computer Lab, Humanities Bridgeford Street , University of Manchester

The Institute for Social Change, the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research and the Centre for Policy Modelling will be running a 2-day introduction to agent-based simulation. This workshop is funded by a grant from the methods@manchester initiative. The course is free to attend and will be suitable for people without any experience of computer programming, but is particularly aimed at post-graduate social researchers, e.g. PhD students, post-docs, lecturers.

This workshop will introduce participants to the modelling of dynamic social processes, such as group membership, influence, imitation, collaboration and innovation, through a series of agent-based simulations.

See the methods@manchester methods pages for an introduction to Social Simulation and Agent-Based Modelling (

Participants will gain understanding of the simulation of social processes by exploring working simulation models and by adapting these models to describe different types of process. It will give participants a first-hand experience of complexity science including the ideas of emergence, self-organisation, chaos, ‘lock in’ and dynamic systems. We will also consider the limitations and difficulties of such techniques, and how they complement more traditional approaches in the social sciences.

This will be a largely hands-on course, exposing participants to a series of simulation models in the NetLogo simulation language. It will include: brief introductions, simplified example models, guided suggestions for interacting with them and assistants to help when you get stuck. There will be some summary sessions to bring out the lessons learnt and additional materials to guide participants onto the next steps of working with simulations.

Booking form at:

08 November, 2012

Summary of the FuturICT proposal the CPM/MMU is part of

Here is the summary of the FuturICT proposal for interim funding to the EU, which involved 83 EU (or associated country) institutions (including us).  This is a hugely ambitious project.

The full summary can be accessed here:

Executive Summary

The unifying goal of the FuturICT FET flagship is to integrate the fields of information and communication technologies (ICT), social sciences and complexity science, to develop a new kind of participatory science and technology that will help us to understand, explore and manage the complex, global, socially interactive systems that make up our world today, while at the same time paving the way for a new paradigm of ICT systems that will leverage socio-inspired self-organisation, self-regulation, and collective awareness.

FuturICT will bring together, on a global level, Big Data, new modelling techniques and new forms of interaction, leading to a new understanding of society and its co-evolution with technology. It will place Europe at the forefront of a major scientific drive to understand, explore and manage our complex, connected world in a sustainable and resilient manner.

FuturICT is motivated by the fact that ubiquitous communication and sensing blur the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds, creating unparalleled opportunities for understanding the socio-economic fabric of our world, and for empowering humanity to make informed, responsible decisions for its future. The intimate, complex and dynamic relationship between global, networked ICT systems and human society directly influences the complexity and manageability of both. This also opens up the possibility to fundamentally change the way ICT will be designed, built and operated, to reflect the need for socially interactive, ethically sensitive, trustworthy, self-organised and reliable systems.

FuturICT will create a new public resource - value-oriented tools and models to aggregate, access, query and understand vast amounts of data. Information from open sources, real-time devices and mobile sensors will be integrated with multi-scale models of the behaviour of social, technological, environmental and economic systems, which can be interrogated by policy-makers, business people and citizens alike. Together, these will build an information eco-system that will lead to new business models, scientific paradigm shifts and more rapid and effective ways to create and disseminate new knowledge and social benefits – thereby forming an innovation accelerator.

To realise this vision, FuturICT is organised into a number of closely interacting Focus Areas which will be introduced in Section 2. Given below are a high level overview of the research areas, the motivation behind the research and a plan of action to accomplish the FuturICT goal.

FuturICT will create a “Planetary Nervous System” (PNS) to orchestrate a high-level, goal driven selforganised, collection and evaluation of Big Data generated from sources such as social media, public infrastructures, smart phones or sensor networks. The aim is to create an increasingly detailed “measurement” and a better understanding of the state of the world. For this, the sensing concept used in the physical and environmental sciences will be combined with machine learning and semantic technologies and extended to social and economic contexts. The information provided by the Planetary Nervous System will fuel the development of more realistic, and eventually, global scale models that bring data and theories together, to form a “Living Earth Simulator” (LES) enabling the simulation of “what if …” scenarios. The LES will reveal causal interdependencies and visualise possible short-term scenarios, highlight possible side effects and test critical model assumptions. The “Global Participatory Platform” (GPP) will open up FuturICT’s data, models, and methods for everyone. It will also support interactivity, participation, and collaboration, and furthermore provide experimental and educational platforms. The activities to develop a “Global System Science” (GSS) will lay the theoretical foundations for these platforms, while the focus on socio-inspired ICT will use the insights gained to identify suitable designs for socially interactive systems and the use of mechanism that have proven effective in society as operational principles for ICT systems. FuturICT’s “Exploratories” will integrate the functionalities of the PNS, LES, and GPP, and produce real-life impacts in areas such as Health, Finance, Future Cities, Smart Energy Systems, and Environment. Furthermore, the “Innovation Accelerator” (IA) will develop new approaches to accelerate inventions and innovations. A strong focus on ethics will cut across all activities and develop value-sensitive ICT. Targeted integration efforts will push towards the creation of a powerful and integrated ICT platform that puts humans in the centre of attention.

The FuturICT website is at: