Participatory and Cross-Scale Modelling of Social-Ecological Systems 2022

13 - 17 June 2022

Venue: Lorentz Center@Snellius

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We require better understanding of what society wants and needs from the natural environment and the impacts these have on it, how the environment shapes peoples’ and societies’ behaviour, and how public policies might navigate trade-offs and synergies in social-ecological systems (SESs) across different spatial and temporal scales. Agent-based modelling aims at addressing these needs but often does not consider interactions across varied spatial and temporal scales, which have large potential impacts on results and associated policy design. In complex SESs where certainty is low, data availability is limited, and management of resources is contested, ongoing and adaptive, using participatory procedures for including a wide array of stakeholders in modelling efforts is central to their effectiveness and value. The important and diverse roles models can play in guiding decision processes are a feature of stakeholder participation today and increases societal knowledge in general. But in many cases participation remains tagged on haphazardly during the modelling process, or is merely paid false lip service.


Workshop aims and objectives

This hybrid workshop aims to push for new, bold, and ambitious modelling breaking down barriers between agent- and none agent-based modellers, SES scholars and policy users. It wants to unblock theoretical and methodological roadblocks for cross-scale and participatory modelling of SESs. The workshop was originally scheduled as physical meeting for 13 – 17 October 2020 but instead kicked off by a series of virtual meetings due to the restrictions of COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, five subgroups formed each working on a peer-review manuscript which will be part of a special issue in the Journal Social-Ecological Systems modelling (SESMO). For the Lorentz workshop 2022, we want to first reflect on whether the SESMO SI has been able to answer one or several of the following questions, and then decide which of the questions require further deliberations:

  1. How can we truly model SESs across multiple temporal and spatial scales and dimensions (e.g. social, economic, political)?
  2. What might the characteristics of complex systems (e.g. emergent, self-organising, feedback loops, adaptation, non-linearity) look like and create across scales? How might we represent and study these concepts in cross-scale agent-based models?
  3. What technical specifications and ABM architectures will we need to model local, regional and global contexts across-scale?
  4. How can we model political, governance, and institutional dynamics better in SESs models, particularly focussing on their cross-scale nature?
  5. How can we effectively implement participatory methods in modelling SESs across scales? Who are the stakeholders working at different scales and dimensions and how do we manage their contributions effectively?
  6. How can we balance model size and complexity against understanding of dynamics in the resulting ABMs, to ensure effective communication with stakeholders and final users?

Given the hybrid workshop approach, we will stream sessions/ talks and put questions from virtual participants to the speaker or in a chat that will be shown in real-time during the main sessions or talks. We will further have physical and virtual breakout sessions separately, with a virtual participant reporting their progress via speaker and video, and results from breakout discussions (physical or virtual) will be shown online as shared texts using Google sheets and Google Jamboards.

Workshop group sessions (physical, virtual, hybrid) shall focus on topics that are of interest for at least three participants and that focus on developing, e.g. manuscript outlines, modelling guidelines, action plans for small-scale projects, hackathons or project proposals.

The ultimate goal of the group sessions is to end the workshop on Friday with a clear after-workshop plan of action points and individual commitments.



Jedidja van Bree-Waarsenburg

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