The Center for Complex System Studies (CCSS) at Kalamazoo College:

  • organizes the building of new undergraduate curricular initiatives related to complex systems;
  • organizes activities open to the public such as lectures, workshops and symposia;
  • supports research on complex systems through journal clubs, the Laboratory for Simulations, and support for ongoing research projects.

Mission Statement

The Center for Complex Systems Studies at Kalamazoo College has been established to contribute to the education of students from all majors by adopting highly inter- and transdisciplinary approaches, and to promote the building of bridges between disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Complex System Studies

Complex phenomena occur at many different levels of organization of natural systems and human society. Specifically, the understanding of mixed natural – social systems (such as ecological – socioeconomical systems) needs the application of the new methods in the theory of complex systems. The existence of similarities between the structures of different systems allows for the transfer of methods of analysis from one system to another. For example, the spreading of epidemics, ideas, opinions and drug addiction can be described by very similar models. To mention another example, network theory offers methods to understand the structure and dynamics of the brain, of interacting social groups, food webs, financial and market networks, etc.

The methodology of complex systems studies complements more traditional forms of study such as the qualitative methods and statistical approaches frequently used in the social sciences. A full understanding of natural and social systems requires the use of many different tools and perspectives. Because complex systems consist of many interacting parts (such as molecules, neurons, people) which can behave in highly nonlinear ways (small changes can lead to big effects) computer simulations are a natural tool.

The CCSS works to make these tools and ways of thinking available to students and faculty with all levels of technical expertise.

Sponsorship and Support

The establishment of the CCSS has been supported by the Luce Foundation within the framework of the Henry R. Luce Professorship Program.

The Center is supported and partially supervised by an Advisory Board