Teaching and other activities

Teaching is important for SCCS. Our research group seeks to promote the use of complexity in the social sciences by carrying out courses and seminars and by tutoring master and PhD thesis.

Courses and seminars





  • Master Thesis: Adaptive capacity to climate change of the coffe smallholders farmers in Nicaragua: a public participation approach, PhD Student: Juan Diego Solís. Director, Sonia Quiroga-Gómez, Defense date: July 2013.
  • Master Thesis: The effects of climate change in the coffee production in Colombia, PhD Student: Carlos Cruz. Director, Sonia Quiroga-Gómez, Defense date: September 2012.
  • Master Thesis: Analyzing hydrological risk and water policy implications on crop production in the Ebro river basin in Spain, PhD Student: Zaira Fernández‐Haddad. Director, Sonia Quiroga-Gómez, Defense date: July 2011.

In progress

  • Dissertation: Resources, Capabilities and Competences for Business Eco-innovation PhD Candidate: Christoph Patrick Kiefer. Advisors, Javier Carrillo Hermosilla and Pablo del Río, Defense date: academic year 2016-17.
  • Dissertation: Las externalidades de información en el acceso de las empresas a los mercados internacionales. PhD Candidate: Raúl Mínguez Fuentes. Advisors, Javier Carrillo Hermosilla and Juan Ramón Cuadrado Roura, Catedrático, Universidad de Alcalá. Defense date: academic year 2016-17.
  • Dissertation: ¿Por qué el desempeño municipal es heterogéneo en Ecuador? Una mirada desde la institucionalidad. PhD Candidate: Lenin Parreño Velasquez. Advisor, Federico Pablo-Martí. Defense date: academic year 2016-17.


Online courses on complexity

There is a wide offer of free online courses conducted by prestigious institutions. Below is a selection.


Complex Adaptive Systems

1.- Complexity Theory

In this video we will be giving an overview to the areas of complexity theory by looking at the major theoretical frameworks that are considered to form part of it and contribute to the study of complex systems.

 2.- Complex Systems

In this module we will be trying to define what exactly a complex system is, we will firstly talk about systems in general before going on to look at complexity as a produce of a number of different parameters

 3.- Overview

In this module we will be giving a overview to complex adaptive systems, we will firstly define what we mean they this term, before briefly covering the main topics in this area.

 4.- Adaptive Systems

In this module we will be giving a overview to complex adaptive systems, we will firstly define what we mean they this term, before briefly covering the main topics in this area.

5.- Regulatory Systems

In this module we are going to talk about Regulatory systems from the perspective of systems theory and cybernetics.

We will firstly define what they are and give some examples before introducing you to the basic components of a control system and its overall workings.

Lastly we will talk about what it means for something to be self-regulated or under control.


 6.- Schemata

 In this module we will be talking about the internal logic or schema that governs the behavior of agents within complex adaptive systems.

 7.- Simple Rules

In this section to the course we are going to start our discussion on the major theme of self-organization by exploring one of the key premises of complex systems theory, which is that global coordination and complex behavior can emerge out of very simple rules governing the interaction between agents on the local level without need for centralized coordination.

8.- Feedback & Externalities

In this module we will be discussing the role of feedback loops with respect to self-organization by looking at how they works to promote or de-promote the synchronization of states between elements within complex adaptive systems.

9.- Cellular Automaton

In this video we are going to discuss cellular automata, we will firstly talk about what they are before looking at a classical example, we will then discuss individually the different classes of patterns that cellular automata can generate before wrapping-up with a talk about their significance as a new approach to mathematical modeling.

10.- Cooperation & Competition

In this module we are going to talk about the dynamics of cooperation and competition between agents within complex systems. We will firstly discuss the general concept before looking at zero and positive-sum-games, following this we will be talking about negative externalities as we look at the so-called “tragedy of the commons “ and social dilemma.

11.- Self-Organization

In this video we will be talking about the process of self-organization within complex adaptive systems and the dynamic interplay between order and entropy that is thought to be required to enable it, we will firstly discuss different theories for the emergence of organization in so doing we will look at the first and second laws of thermodynamics, we will then talk about the rise of self- organization theory during the past century and lay down the basic framework through which this process is understood to take place.

12.- Self-Organization Far-From-Equelibrium

In this module we will be talking about the theory of far-from-equilibrium self-organization, we will firstly discuss the concepts of order and randomness in terms of symmetry and information theory, we will then talk about complex as the product of an in between or phase transition state and finally will discuss the term edge-of-chaos and talk about how self-organization is thought to be dependent upon noise and random fluctuations in order to stay generating variety.

13.- Robustness & Resilience

In this module we will be discussing robustness and resilience within self-organizing systems, we will firstly talk about what we mean by robustness, we will go on to discuss adaptation as a mechanism for resilience and why self- organizing systems are typically considered robust, we will look at the theory of requisite variety and finish by talking about self-organized criticality.

14.- Evolution

In this module we will be talking about the dynamics of evolution within complex systems, we will firstly define what we mean by the term, then look at its basic functioning by discussing each stage in the process and finally talk about evolution with respect to the development of complexity.

15.- Fitness Landscapes

 In this video we will present the concept of a fitness landscape as it is used to model complex adaptive systems, we will provide you with a basic description of how the model works, talk about the key parameter that affect its topology and finally look at the types of strategies used by agents within these different landscapes.

Complexity Economics


Course Overview

Introduction to our complexity economics course.

1.- Economic Theory

In this video we will be firstly talking about what theories and paradigms are and providing a little insight to their basic workings before moving on to define this subject that we call economics. We will outline some of the major considerations involved in the study of economics, including trying to understand the logic behind the decision making of agents, theories of economic value, the dynamics of cooperation and competition, economic institutions and economic development.

2.- Standard Economics

In this video we will be giving an overview to the theory that supports standard economics and try to understand its basic workings. What we will be trying to do here is get an idea for why our traditional economic framework is the way it is, from this we should gain a greater appreciation for it and gain a better understanding for where some of its capabilities and limitations lie

3.- The Economic Context

In this module we will be talking about some of the major trends that are reshaping our global economy both on the macro level and the micro level. We have added this module to the course because these trends are taking us into a world of heightened connectivity, interdependency and in a word complexity, this is a world that in many ways goes beyond our traditional industrial age paradigm and necessitates a new more expanded theoretical framework for economic science

4.- Overview

In this video we give a brief overview to complexity economics, a modelling framework that sees the the economy as an open system, composed of heterogeneous agents with bounded rationality making choices within a particular context, which gives rise to networks of interactions that we call institutions and a macro level non-equilibrium to the economy that is in constant change driven by internal dynamics

5.- Behavioral Economics

In this video we will be turning our attention to what insight and models complexity economics can offer us in trying to understand the basic building blocks of economics, people, aka agents. We will draw upon the new area of economics called behavioral economics to try and give some account of what people value, how people make choices and how they respond to incentives

6.- Value Theory

Value theory within economics represents all theories that try to define what economic value is, where it comes from, why goods and services are priced the way they are and how to calculate some form of objective price, if such a thing exists. In this video we will be looking at the two major paradigms to the theory of economic value, the standard extrinsic paradigm based around the idea of utility and the alternative nonlinear paradigm of intrinsic value

7.- Choice Theory

In this video we are going to be covering the topic of choice theory, as we look at two different models to how agents make choices within an economic context. During the video we will be discussing the standard model of rational choice theory, we will look at its basic assumptions grounded in the idea of perfect information. We will then go on to talk about what happens when these assumptions break down and look at the alternative models that are coming out of behavioral economics as it presents us with a new set of context dependent models for how agents make decisions within complex and uncertain environments

8.- Incentive Systems

The study of incentives is one of the central topics in microeconomics, incentives to work hard, to produce quality products, to study, to invest, to save, etc. How to design institutions that provide good incentives for economic agents has become a central question of economics. In this video we will be presenting two very different frameworks for understanding agent’s motives and associated incentive systems.

9.- Causal Links & Nonlinearity

In this video we will be introducing you to the basics of system dynamics as we discuss causal link diagrams, we will try to show how causal link diagrams can be used in the modeling of many microeconomic phenomena that involve the interaction between agents, such as zero and positive sum games.

10.- Feedback Loops

How complex systems like businesses and economies change over time is studied within the domain of system dynamics that came out of MIT during the 50’s and 60’s. Central to this area is the idea of feedback loops which we will be exploring in this video as we talk about positive and negative feedback, virtuous and vicious cycles, we will touch upon the subject of control systems and finally causal loop diagrams

11.- Self-Organization

n this video we will be taking a brief look at the process of self-organization as it applies to economics, we will firstly talk about how in contrast to hierarchical structures which are static, self-organization is a dynamic process through which patterns of organization emerge out of local level nonlinear interactions, we go on to talk about a number of stages and prerequisites to this process

12.- Non-Equilibrium

In this module we will be talking about the concepts of equilibrium and non-equilibrium, in continuing on with our discussion around feedback loops we will see how equilibrium is derived from negative feedback and randomness, but as soon as we get positive feedback within the system this will give us nonlinear dynamics and dis-equilibrium, as we get the emergence of new and distinct patterns of organization on the macro scale, during our discussion you will be introduced to a number of new concepts within complexity theory, such as symmetry breaking, phase transitions, tipping points and path-dependency.

13.- Network Theory

In this video we will be looking at the basics of network theory as applied to economics, talking about how connectivity is a very fundamental feature to a system and once we reach a certain critical level of connectivity things get flipped around and the focus becomes the structure and nature of these network of connections

14.- Network Topology

In this video we will be taking a look at network topology and how it relates to economic systems, we firstly talk about the process of unbundling, where heightened connectivity disintegrates homogeneous formal organizations as they become distributed out and re-coordinated through networks. We will talk about clustering as a key factor in overall network topology and how it gives rise to network heterogeneity, distinct subsystems within the network that will likely maintain it out of equilibrium. We finally touch on the subject of how network analysis is an important tool for understanding and modeling informal economies

15.- Network Dynamics

In this module we will been talking about economic network dynamics that looks at how networks are formed and develop over their life cycle. We will discuss how with network economies connections can grow at an super-linear rate giving rise to a nonlinear pattern of development, that requires a certain threshold to be overcome before the positive feedback loop of the network effect takes hold as the system can grow very rapidly

16.- Complex Adaptive Systems

In this video we will be looking through the lens of complex adaptive systems theory in order to try and interpret the macro dynamics within an economic system, we will firstly introduce you to the idea of a complex adaptive system before going on to build up a model to their dynamics through what is called a fitness landscape, a three dimensional state space for representing the whole system’s macro topology, we will talk about how this topology changes depending on the complexity of the environment and some of the strategies that agents use within these different environments

17.- Resiliency

In this video we will be trying to identify some of the key factors involved in the resiliency of an economic or financial network as we talk about two very different strategies that can be taken when it comes to dealing with change effectively

18.- Evolutionary Economics

 In this module we will be covering the topic of evolutionary economics, a paradigm in economic development that interprets the growth of economies through the model of evolution. We will be firstly talking about our traditional approach to economic development before going on to give an outline to this process of evolution as it acts on economies through the production of variety, adaptation and selection, finally we will discuss how this gives rise to economic systems of greater differentiation and integration as they develop over time


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