The Open University since 2006
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Frozen Planet: The Last FrontierThursday, 26th May 2016 09:00 - EdenThe people who work, and live, at the extremes of the planet Read more: Frozen Planet: The Last Frontier
Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3Available until Sunday, 26th June 2016 20:00With only four weeks left at the Oxford Academy, we look to see how the old and young have learned from each other. Read more: Old School With The Hairy Bikers: EPISODE 3
Thinking Allowed 2016: 'Queer' wars, Nigerian beauty pageantsAvailable for over a year
All in the Mind - Summer 2016: Exams and the mental health of children, a community approach to suicide preventionAvailable for over a year
Thinking Allowed 2016: Glasgow gangs - Russian gangsAvailable for over a year
Life - with David AttenboroughDavid Attenborough explores the vibrant mix of life found on our plant - where it comes from, and... Read more: Life - with David Attenborough
Take the photographic memory testCan you capture scenes just by looking at them? Find out with our photographic memory test. Launch now: Take the photographic memory test
Una lengua en movimientoThis free course will develop your knowledge and understanding of the societies and cultures of... Try: Una lengua en movimiento now
Start writing fictionHave you always wanted to write, but never quite had the courage to start? This free course,... Try: Start writing fiction now
There is increasing recognition that the reductionist mindset that is currently dominating society, rooted in unlimited economic growth unperceptive to its social and environmental impact, cannot resolve the converging environmental, social and economic crises we now face. The primary aim of this free course, Understanding the environment: Complexity and chaos, is to encourage the shift away from reductionist and human centred thinking towards a holistic and ecological worldview.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- carry out a series of simulations of population dynamics
- experience the dynamic complexity resulting from the interaction of positive and negative feedback loops over time
- use quantitative data to identify trends and investigate the nature of relationships within a system dynamics model.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Course Outline
- 2 Section 5 Readings – Complexity and chaos
- 3 Section 5 Activities
- 4 Activities
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
Understanding the environment: Complexity and chaos
Our cognitive limitations makes it difficult for many of us to perceive the complex and unpredictable dynamics of wicked problems as they evolve over time. Increasingly accessible computer hardware and software is allowing us to directly engage with this complexity and unpredictability so as to allow us to make better decisions. In this free course, you will be exploring the unpredictable nature of dynamic, non-linear systems by simulating several simple population dynamics models using Netlogo — a software tool that can be freely downloaded from . You will then propose your own model describing the dynamics of a complex situation of your choosing, and find data to support your model.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 2 study in Environment & Development
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Environmental Studies courses or view the range of currently available OU Environmental Studies courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
Last updated on: Tuesday, 29th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.
All our alternative formats are free for you to download, for more information about the different formats we offer please see our FAQs. The most frequently used are Word (for accessibility), PDF (for print) and ePub and Kindle to download to eReaders*.
- Word (2.8 MB)
- PDF (4.1 MB)
- ePub 3.0 (2.2 MB)
- ePub 2.0 (2.2 MB)
- Kindle (821 KB)
- RSS (339 KB)
- HTML (1.5 MB)
- SCORM (1.5 MB)
- OUXML Package (26 KB)
- OUXML File (83 KB)
- IMS Common cartridge
- Moodle backup (1.1 MB)
*Please note you will need an ePub and Mobi reader for these formats.