From the director
The advancement of knowledge has taken a path of increasing specialisation, which is reflected in most of our teaching and learning, our academic structure, our research funding and evaluation. Whereas the challenges that mankind faces in science and society defy the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines.
The real challenge is not to stop at the fundamental processes in their various scales and functionality but to explore their mutual interaction and the emerging unpredictable behaviour of the overall complex system. Climate change, global health, mobility, financial markets, social and pathological epidemics are just some examples that require new ways of thinking about and understanding the complex, interconnected and rapidly changing world that we borrow from future generations. Understanding, quantifying and handling this complexity and the rapidly growing interdependence of systems is one of the biggest challenges of our time.
At the UvA Institute for Advanced Study scientists work collaboratively on selected themes, with complex systems methodology as their common language transcending the disciplinary boundaries. It facilitates the transition from multidisciplinary to true interdisciplinary research. This synergy of sciences creates a ‘whole that is not only more, but also different than the sum of its parts’, (Philip Warren Anderson).