Canadian Network for Complex Systems (CNCS)

Canadian Network for Complex Systems (CNCS)

WICI is in its tenth year as a formal UW research centre, with renewal pending in winter, 2021.  As part of the renewal, we are exploring the development of a Canadian Network for Complex Systems (CNCS).  The form, mission, and activities of CNCS are open for development.  Initial discussions on campus have identified the following open questions and possible directions:

1. What goals/needs might CNCS serve?

    1. Networking:
      1. Identify and publicize active complex systems researchers across Canada—facilitate communication.
      2. Provide scholar matchmaking services (i.e., for those seeking particular expertise, data, or research support for research collaboration, student supervision and examination, and grant partnerships).
      3. Conduct network analysis (research) on the community of complex systems scholars. 
    2. Education:Provide access to “get-started” educational materials for complex systems methods to students and other researchers. 
    3. Incentives for collaboration:Incentivize network development, collaborative engagement and interdisciplinary research at the administrative level.
    4. Interdisciplinary Scholarship:
      1. Enable a cultural shift towards community and interdisciplinary engagement.
      2. Reduce analytical and language barriers to facilitate collaboration across fields. Reduce barriers between theory and practice, or the abstract and the concrete.
      3. Bring together those with theory and tools with those with applied problems. 
  1. What kind of structure might CNCS have?
    1. Roles and responsibilities of the main node—to be determined.
    2. Decentralized nodes with a highly flexible structure, but a clearly-defined minimum hurdle for continued membership. 
    3. Given that minimum, node size/involvement can be flexibly scaled, from minimal to significant engagement (i.e., online forums, events, participation in summer schools, collaborative projects).
    4. Have rotating activities with internal responsibility for funding (such as conferences, summer schools).
  2. What kinds of activities might CNCS support?
    1. Identify grand challenges for complexity science that could frame national and international collaborations.  Which are we working on?  Which do we aspire to contribute to?
    2. Direct support and engagement with governmental actors at all levels, to provide research support for complex management challenges. 
    3. Host methodological workshops and develop modules that could be delivered within different courses across institutions.
    4. A summer school, with rotating hosting, was highly supported.
    5. Cross-university advising and student examination. 
    6. Host retreats to deepen connections among scholars.
    7. Communicate funding priorities to tri-council and other funding bodies.
    8. Large, multi-institutional grant and infrastructure initiatives.
  3. How might CNCS be funded?
  4. What might CNCS mission be?
    1. Build capacity to achieve critical mass of complex systems scholarship within Canada.
    2.  Advance the discipline broadly.
    3. Train the next generation of complex systems thinkers.
    4. In addition, have an applied focus – demonstrate what complex systems theory/methods applications can do.

In order to explore the potential for this network, we are currently creating an “external core member" category within WICI.  We also seek to identify up to four institutions across Canada that could house major external nodes.  Administrative leaders of these nodes would be designated “external node coordinators,” and would also be external core members. 

Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI) logo.