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If you happen to take a keen interest in public or social policy, it’s likely that in recent years you’ll have stumbled across terms such as “complexity theory” and “systems approaches”.

The emergence of these and similar theories is being driven by a growing acknowledgement that our social, economic and environmental problems lie rooted in not one but a multitude of competing factors, all of which are vying to shape our behaviours and attitudes. Whether its climate change, financial crises or popular uprisings, it is now regularly argued by academics and social commentators that our responses to major challenges can only be understood (and addressed) by making sense of these factors and appreciating how they interact with one another.

This much is understood by most of us. Yet how these new approaches can be translated from theory into practice appears to be another matter. Across central and local government, although the importance of network and complex systems approaches is recognised, there is little sense that these are being drawn upon during key moments of decision-making. Indeed, many in policymaking circles are often frustrated at being exhorted to use these approaches while not being offered any practical advice about how to do so.

In a bid to fill this gap, Synthesis, the RSA, Assyst and FutureICT will shortly be holding a day of discussions to look more closely at the implication of these theories for a number of key policy areas, including security, community development, transport and technological innovation. The event will consist of a number of stand-alone daytime sessions, each of which will cover a specific policy challenge, and an evening reception and closing speech from Jesse Norman, MP.

Speakers include Prof. Paul Ormerod, Steve Bishop, Bridget Rosewell, Prof. Jamie MacIntosh, Lord Julian Hunt and Steve Broome.

The event will take place on Thursday 15th March and is free to attend. The daytime sessions will be held in Central Hall, Westminster, and the evening reception at The Cinnamon Club.

For more details and to sign-up to the sessions or the evening reception, please visit our eventbrite page here.

Should you have any further questions, please email me directly or call 020 7451 6836.


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