Photo: A. Künzelmann, Graphic Design: G. Dreßler

The International Summer School
“How to model human decision making in social-ecological agent-based models”

for PhD Students and early Postdocs modelling social-ecological systems in the context of natural resource use took place from 5 July to 10 July 2015 in Kohren-Sahlis (near Leipzig, Germany).

This is some of the overwhelmingly positive feedback by participants:

  • ‘A very useful and fun week for me.’
  • ‘Good mix of students and staff and lots of interesting topics discussed.’
  • ‘Thanks to all the organisers for managing a great summer school with very valuable inputs and a relaxed, comfortable group atmosphere, despite quite a lot of input!’
  • ‘Coming together from different fields to an interdisciplinary gathering has sharpened my view on where I am/want to develop scientifically.’
  • ‘I would come again.’

Below, you find the original Summer School announcement.

Modelling human decision-making

An adequate representation of human decision-making in agent-based models (ABM) of social-ecological systems is crucial. Capturing main drivers of human decision-making in these models will contribute to our understanding of how humans manage natural resources, and may contribute to the development of effective and acceptable policies. However, there is still a large gap between available theories on human decision-making and behaviour from the social sciences and modelling approaches currently used in the ABM-modelling community. The summer school will address this gap by exploring how different behavioural theories can guide the development of more realistic decision-making in agent based models.

Content of the course

This intensive course gives an introduction to theories of human decision-making and behaviour relevant for natural resource management in social-ecological systems. Furthermore, the participants will get insights and hands-on experience on how to represent human decision-making in models of social-ecological systems: Firstly, students will attend a set of lectures in which international experts present their experience in this field. Secondly, the participants will carry out their own modelling projects on a given subject in small student teams. We will use the modelling platform NetLogo. Therefore, a basic proficiency in NetLogo is a prerequisite for participation, either through previous modelling courses or study of the tutorials. The course will focus on building simple models, analysing the results and presenting them in an effective way.

Organisers: Joint initiative of expert groups in agent-based modelling who are members of the project “A synthesis of human decision making to mitigating risks to ecosystem services” supported by the SESYNC-UFZ-sDiv Synthesis Initiative "Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services"


Marco Janssen, Arizona State University
Maja Schlüter, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Gunnar Dreßler, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Karin Frank, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Jürgen Groeneveld, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Wander Jager, University of Groningen
Ryan McAllister, CSIRO
Birgit Müller, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Nina Schwarz, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Zhanli Sun, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO)

Local organisers

Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Leipzig, Department of Ecological Modelling and Junior Research Group POLISES


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