Study Biosocial Complexity-A New Chapter in Science Education

In keeping with the goals of The New American University, the Biosocial Complexity Inititiative is committed to establishing ASU as a global center for interdisciplinary research, discovery and development by 2020. The School of Sustainability, the School of Life Sciences, and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change now offer their graduate students the option of a PhD concentration in Complex Adaptive Systems Science (CASS). A CASS Certificate is available to all graduate students in good standing in their elected school or department.

PhD Concentration

Doctoral students can choose to pursue the Complex Adaptive Systems Science concentration, which is designed to train the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for approaching diverse phenomena in the social and life sciences. Students’ career opportunities will be enhanced by combining fluency in the common language of complexity with a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines. There is a growing need for scientists to be able to work and collaborate in an increasingly interdisciplinary context.

The concentration is integrated with diverse university-wide research and emphasizes the value of a complex adaptive systems perspective when seeking solutions to critical societal issues. Complex adaptive systems science is the study of interactive and dynamic systems that learn and change over time.

Complex system behaviors are often said to be emergent and subject to self-organization, which makes them more difficult to predict. Such examples can include studying the long-term changes in epidemics, land degradation, urban growth, and natural disasters and their resulting impacts. The concentration is open to students who have been accepted to doctoral programs in the School of Sustainability, the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and the School of Life Sciences.

Complex Adaptive Systems Science (Certificate)

This new interdisciplinary graduate certificate in Complex Adaptive Systems Science (CASS) aims to train the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for approaching interconnected phenomena in the social and life sciences as complex adaptive systems.

This complexity science certificate is closely related to the interdisciplinary PhD concentration in Complex Adaptive Systems Science (CASS). The CASS educational program will be tightly integrated with diverse, ongoing, and university-wide research on complex adaptive systems at Arizona State University, providing scholars with new perspectives and offering a more active role in seeking solutions to a broad array of critical issues facing our society today.

Learning Outcomes

Complex adaptive system concepts and tools can serve as bridges between disciplines, providing a common language, and thereby promoting the interdisciplinary collaboartions needed to come to grips with the intellectual and societal challenges of the 21st century. Students will be fluent in the language of complexity while also ensuring they receive a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines. 

By broadly embedding an understanding of complex adaptive system-relevant approaches into the practice of normal science, students will gain the ability to transform science. The CASS program promotes the development and testing of more robust theory and sophisticated methods in a wider array of research settings. This is needed to develop a deeper understanding of the nature and dynamics of complex adaptive systesm, grounded in concrete examples and applications.