Education Program

All day


Whether it’s the first red feather on a black wing or the emergence of a market economy, all “newness” has its start somewhere. The ability to innovate is, in fact, a defining feature of complex systems. In this intensive three-day course we will be exploring many core complex systems theories in Innovation and Invention. We will primarily focus on three systems to delve into the field of innovation and invention, namely, technology, biology, and social systems.

An important distinction made by social and biological scientists between invention and innovation. Invention is the creation of something new, while an innovation is a successful invention…a transformative sort of newness. Both are essential for evolutionary processes in technology, biology, and social systems, and both have long been of interest to SFI.

We believe that just as Darwin’s Theory describes evolutionary processes in biology, so too might a Theory of Innovation describe the emergence and survival of novelty across the technological, social, and biological domains. The origins of life and of multicellularity, the evolutionary dimensions of social and cultural change, the drivers of technological change, the transformation of knowledge systems, the development of complex societies, the role of energy in human development, and the formation of ecological and social networks are just a few of the themes that animate our research.

As we seek quantifiable parallels across these diverse systems, we ask—what are the factors, the processes that come together to create innovations? Where does novelty come from? Like all SFI science, our research aims beyond the metaphorical. Through empirical, modeling, and theoretical research, we seek a quantitative, possibly predictive theory of novelty.

This accessible three-day executive education course provides an intensive introduction to the field of complexity as it relates to Innovation and Invention. Through lectures, mini projects, exercises, and interactive discussions with prominent SFI faculty and your fellow participants, you will learn how methods and tools at the forefront of complexity science are being applied to modeling, predicting, and impacting the behavior systems across many disciplines.

This course is specifically designed for professionals, faculty, students, and others who are eager to explore and apply ideas from complexity in their own fields. No background in science or mathematics is required. We particularly encourage professionals, managers and policy-makers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations; industrial research and development staff; social work and education professionals; journalists; and university faculty and students to take part in this collaborative opportunity to learn, and apply, the latest approaches to critical problems.

More information about the course can be found on our wiki

Register Here

More SFI Events