The Cambridge-based New England Complex Systems Institute today announced receipt of a five-year grant to examine the prevention of ethnic conflict through a complex systems approach.
NECSI president, Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam commented on the announcement, saying:
"Ethnic conflict is the major source of violence and death in the world today. Between 50 and 80 million people have been killed in ethnic violence in the last century.
"The solution will not, and cannot come out of the existing policies. Some of these conflicts have continued for many years. To name just one example, the civil war in Sudan has been raging since 1991. The situation has only become worse over the years. Today, the UN considers the situation in Sudan to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, with hundreds dying daily.
"One of the key tasks of complex systems scientists is to use the new tools and methods that are now available to us to help find ways to make the world a better place. The science of complex systems allows us to consider the bigger picture, but simultaneously examine the components and factors that give rise to it. Whether Algeria or Serbia, Burma or Burundi, there are new strategies we can explore that may provide solutions to these complex problems. NECSI embraces this opportunity to contribute to this effort."
According to Bar-Yam, the complex systems approach looks to treat multiple facets of the problem. It promises to yield radically new and innovative recommendations to eradicate major ethnic conflict and work effectively towards a safe and secure future for the international community.
The New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) is an independent educational and research institution dedicated to advancing the study of complex systems. Complex systems have multiple interacting components whose collective behavior cannot be simply inferred from the behavior of components. The recognition that understanding the parts cannot explain collective behavior has led to various new concepts and methodologies that are affecting all fields of science and engineering, and which NECSI continually applies to technology, business and social policy through projects with military, healthcare and engineering organizations and corporations.