Resilience of living systems

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Resilience of living systems

 To be announced

Hotel De Bosrand, Ede


Resilience is the capacity of a system to maintain or recover certain functions while undergoing shocks and stresses. It emerges from the many interactions between people and natural and/or artificial system components, and the capacity of people to adapt. Under threat of climate change, national and international conflicts, habitat destruction, and biodiversity loss, we urgently need to understand and better manage the complexity and intertwining of the environmental en and social system at our planet. The time is here to help create a genuinely resilient society. We work on food security, flood protection, continuous energy supply, sustainable cities, management of (semi)natural systems, and so forth. All these topics involve aspects of resilience. We need to involve other people in our resilience thinking, build a community of resilience thinkers. Hence this course: making the resilience community happen. We invite you to participate!


During this four-week online course, the participants become acquainted with different resilience concepts and their application from an interdisciplinary perspective. Accordingly, we will address how resilience theory can be used to tackle fundamental and societal issues from a socio-economic and bio-physical perspective and will provide a critical reflection on the relevance, use, and applicability of the concept of resilience. The objective of this course is thus to connect resilience concepts to viable applications by offering an efficacious analytical/computational approach. Participants will work in teams on the conceptualization and quantification of the resilience of a particular system. In the end, each team presents suggestions for a practical way to improve resilience of the studied system.

In the course, Agent Based Modelling will be used as the primary modelling tool. Hence, the first week involves a practical introduction to programming in NetLogo for construction of an Agent Based Model to represent a modelled system. ABM stands out for its potential to model the variety of human sociality and behaviour.

We will focus particularly on:

  1. Definitions, characteristics, and determinants of resilience and how this varies between scientific disciplines;
  2. The identification of resilience-related problems;
  3. The quantification of resilience, including modelling, measurement, analysis, and prediction, and options for management and governance of the systems’ resilience.

For whom is this course?
This course is primarily intended for PhD students, academics, R&D people from industry, and people working on the interface of academia and policy making, interested in Agent Based Models and resilience, regardless of specialization. We actively seek cross-fertilization between disciplines, and academia and industry.

Course set-up

The course is composed of:

1. Basic training on Agent Based Modelling (element of the first week)
Given that Agent Based Modelling (ABM) will be the central tool in this course, we first provide a training in ABM, enabling all participants to be on par with the required entry level when we start discussing and analysing resilience of various systems.
2. Key-note / Introduction Lecture
The course starts with an introductory lecture in which a bird’s-eye view of resilience is given. We discuss basic concepts of resilience, simultaneously ensuring that all participants are using the same terminology.
3. Introduction session
Participants introduce themselves in an introduction session where they present a 1-slide PowerPoint with a fixed format (“who am I, what do I do, what is my interest in resilience, how can I contribute, what do I want to get out of the course?”). The fixed format will be sent to participants prior to the course. The PowerPoint slide must be submitted in advance.
4. Lectures and Discussion
In the first three weeks of the course, the day starts with 2-3 lectures (30 minutes each) focussing on the basic concepts of resilience and how to apply them. For introducing these basic concepts, we will use a range of examples from different disciplines (e.g. socio-economic, medical, biophysical, ecological, etc., at different scales of integration (space, time, complexity)). Lectures are linked to a scientific paper by the speaker. All lectures are followed by a 30-minute discussion where all participants must be prepared to ask questions based on the presentation and the paper.
5. Working groups and Final Presentations
The second part of most days, as well as the last week, will involve group work in which each team poses a specific research question and uses agent-based modelling to answer it. The outcomes of the group work will be used for an overview of Resilience of living systems. The last two days of the course will be used by the different teams to present their work to each other and other invited listeners. 

The multidisciplinary groups will work on an assignment, taking the following aspects into account:
• Sociality of the people involved;
• Spatial and temporal scales;
• Complexity;
• Feedback mechanisms;
• Stability.

Among others, the following potential topics have been identified:
• Natural systems (e.g. a terrestrial system, an aquatic system);
• Farming systems (e.g. plant, animal or mixed);
• Landscapes;
• Food systems (the food chain);
• Microbial systems (soil, gut, etc.);
• Organ and organismal system (e.g. human, animal, plant and organs / systems within);
• The climate system.

However, participants are free to suggest other systems they are interested in, as long as it involves a resilience challenge.


Please click here for the final programme.

Confirmed keynote speakers

The following speakers have been confirmed. More will be listed as names become available

  • Gary Polhill (Former President of the European Social Simulation Association and Research Scientist at James Hutton Institute);
  • Tatiana Filatova (Programme leader of the DeSIRE programme on designing engineered resilience and Professor of computational economics);
  • Amineh Ghorbani (Assistent Professor at Engineering Systems and Services at TBM, Delft University);
  • Emile Chappin (Associate Professor at the Energy and Industry Group of Delft University);
  • Maja Schlüter (Professor in sustainability science at Stockholm University)
  • Mark Kramer (NetLogo & software expert) 

Course Organisers

General information

Target Group The course is aimed at PhD candidates and other academics
Group Size Min. 20, max. 30 participants
Course duration 3 days a weeks from 10:30 - 15:30 CET
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Every three years
Number of credits 2.5 ECTS
Acceptance Closure date for applications: 26 April 2021.
Notifications of preliminary acceptance can be expected around 10 May 2021. Final acceptance will occur upon payment of the fee.
Fees should be paid before May 25, 2021
Prior knowledge No prior knowledge is required
Location Online
Fees 1
PE&RC / WIAS / WIMEK / WASS / EPS / VLAG PhD candidates with an approved TSP € 50,- € 100-
a) All other PhD candidates
b) Postdocs and staff of the above mentioned Graduate Schools
€ 150,- € 200,-
All others € 200,- € 250,-

1 The Early-Bird Fee applies to anyone who REGISTERS ON OR BEFORE 26 MARCH 2021

  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • The Early-Bird policy is such that the moment of REGISTRATION (and not payment) is leading for determining the fee that applies to you.
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that he/she (or his/her secretary) completes the payment correctly and in time.
PE&RC Cancellation Conditions
  • Before 26 April 2021, cancellation is free of charge.
  • From 26 April 2021, a fee of € 75,- will be charged.
  • If you do not show at all, a fee of € 150,- will nevertheless be charged.

Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us and do not assume that by NOT paying the participation fee, your registration is automatically cancelled, because it isn't (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions).

More information

Dr. Claudius van de Vijver (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 485116

Dr. George van Voorn (Biometris)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 484058

Registration of interest

At this moment, this course is not scheduled yet. However, if you register your interest in this activity below, we will inform you as soon as the course is scheduled and registration of participation is opened.