Lorentz Center - Modelling Social Reality: Emergence of the Glass Ceiling from 20 Jan 2014 through 24 Jan 2014
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    Modelling Social Reality: Emergence of the Glass Ceiling
    from 20 Jan 2014 through 24 Jan 2014


1.       Description and Aims of the workshop

The workshop aimed to lay the foundations for interdisciplinary research on models for social reality that can explain deep-seated emergent social phenomena such as the glass ceiling. Simulation and emergence of behavioral patterns form a crucial aspect of the approach. At the workshop we brought together a selected group of sociologists, (child) psychologists and computer scientists (specialized in social simulation and/or agents) in order to test and extend the framework that the workshop organizers created during their stay at NIAS.  A concrete aim of the workshop was to build an interdisciplinary community working on social reality.

2.       Tangible outcomes

First of all a consortium was formed to create a EU project proposal in the area of serious gaming, where social reality plays a big role. Secondly there are tentative connections for starting other projects on norm emergence and possibly training football coaches to cope with gender, culture and age differences in teams. These initiatives are longer term because they first have to find appropriate funding schemes. Three of the special guests (Kemper, Lansu, Pascall), together with other attendants, have projects for writing about the theme. Lansu and others started a new social simulation on gender differences in children, which should lead to a (journal) article.

3.       Scientific breakthrough

No tangible scientific breakthrough was achieved during the workshop. However, it seems that the framework developed by the organizers during their NIAS period does function very well to connect research (and researchers) from different disciplines. As such the workshop did confirm the solid ground that was laid and the interest with all the participants to contribute to this type of research. It seems that modeling social reality in the way that the organizers propose leads to new insights and is a good basis for research in this area.

4.       Aha moments

One participant commented on Friday “After two days, I thought my brain was going to jump out of my head”.  At the end of the workshop several people expressed their delight to find out how their own research fits into a bigger picture. This is a big accomplishment, because it can lead to people profiting from work done in other areas.  It also showed that the organizers did succeed in achieving the primary aim of this workshop; to create an interdisciplinary research community.

5.       Format of the workshop

The workshop format worked well in the sense that there was enough time to have small-group work and talk with other people based on their presentations. The football tournament organized by Vera Pauw on Monday created a relaxed atmosphere and for people to get to know each other. With hindsight we did lack an introductory round in which people could present their aims for the workshop. This would have made it easier to connect to groups later on in the week.


The workshop worked very well and the support from the Lorentz was excellent. We would certainly recommend this to other people that want to organize events where it is important to get to know each other in order to start new cooperation.