Modeling Social Systems

By modeling complex social systems, we predict trends, estimate threats, inform policy, test potential solutions, and ascertain the expected impacts of a changing world. We simulate the patterns of culture and individuals that compose human society to advance our understanding of the present and envision the possibilities of the future.

Active Projects

The Extremist Violence Project is developing new methods for ascertaining and anticipating the sources and dynamics of extremist violence by employing psychological, anthropological, social, and economic analyses, big-data sources, statistical modeling, and computer simulation to study the complexities of radicalization, religious violence, and terrorism.

Modeling Religious Change engages demographic analysis and forecasting, along with complex artificial societies for a detailed understanding of religious and nonreligious identity and change that takes into account behaviors such as religious switching, secularization, immigration, religious beliefs and practices.

The Modeling Religion Project creates comparable versions of theories that can be rigorously tested against real-world data and the historical record by using agent-based and system-dynamics models to examine processes of group formation, religious leadership, extremism and violence, terror management, ritual patterns, and more.

Modeling Religion in Norway engineers creative computer simulations of religious and social dynamics in Norway and other countries that will not only allow us to understand the factors that gradually lead to conflict, but also test out suggestions to circumvent it before it begins.

Strategies Against Rural Suicide aims to build a computational model, incorporating psychological autopsy data along with the insights and expertise of local service providers and policy professionals to improve suicide prevention efforts, particularly in rural settings.

Tools Against Child Trafficking combines big data mining to measure, observe, and learn about trafficking in the real world, network analysis to identify intervention points, modeling and simulation to test the long-term consequences of different policies, and visualization of the child trafficking market system, which will help the public learn about this complex problem in an intuitive way.

The Values in Viral Dispersion project uses artificial simulations to test policy options and human behaviors in the COVID-19 pandemic, such as compliance with physical distancing, social networks, and trust in public health officials. In addition to generating valuable insights into likely policy outcomes, the project aims to educate policy professionals and the public about computational simulation, helping them become more sophisticated consumers of information derived from pandemic-related models.