Resilience of living systems

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Resilience of living systems

 To be announced



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 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, one day foucses on 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 resilience and Agent Based Models, regardless of specialization. We actively seek cross-fertilization between disciplines, and academia and industry.

Course set-up

The course is composed of:

1. Lectures
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.  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.
2. Working groups and Final Presentations
The second part of most days will involve group work in which each team poses a specific research question. 

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.

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 6 days
Language of instruction English
Frequency of recurrence Every 3 years
Number of credits 1.5 ECTS
Prior knowledge No prior experience is required.
Location Parkhotel de Bosrand, Ede, the Netherlands
More information

Dr. Sanja Selaković (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 480269

Dr. George van Voorn (Biometris)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 484616

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.