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A cohort of research and knowledge exchange networks are co-hosting a journal club discussion on the proposal that the science of collective human behavior should be considered a “crisis discipline.” Read the paper and join us for the conversation.

Advance registration is required and can be completed on the CAS Lab event page. Event location is TBD (pending pandemic restrictions).

Convening Networks

Paper for Discussion

Joseph B. Bak-Coleman, Mark Alfano, Wolfram Barfuss, Carl T. Bergstrom, Miguel A. Centeno, Iain D. Couzin, Jonathan F. Donges, Mirta Galesic, Andrew S. Gersick, Jennifer Jacquet, Albert B. Kao, Rachel E. Moran, Pawel Romanczuk, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Kaia J. Tombak, Jay J. Van Bavel, Elke U. Weber. (2021). Stewardship of global collective behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jul 2021, 118 (27) e2025764118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2025764118


Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a “crisis discipline” just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.

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Image credit: Photo by Tanjir Ahmed Chowdhury on Unsplash

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