17W New Course Offering: Science of Anarchy, QSS 30.07

Let's say I hit the big red reset button on Humanity and everyone suddenly forgot their social identity, social status, and government.  What would happen on Day Two? It turns out, people have an amazing capacity for spinning up order out of nothing.  Pirates, prisoners, disaster survivors, gamers in virtual worlds, and theme park guests all give us real-world examples of the reset button in action.  Where does this order come from, how much can it be steered, and how much can it even be studied?  In this interdisciplinary course, we will start with computational models of spontaneous social order, move to experiments on social change, and connect it to real-world examples from the past to today.  We will end by exploring the theory, history, and science of anarchy.

You will learn a simple computer language for writing social simulations, and you will model different systems.  For ideas, you will read sociologists, economists, psychologists, political scientists, philosophers, historians, and even computer scientists and physicists.  Between their logical arguments, computer models, laboratory experiments, and large datasets, we will get all caught up on the state of the amazing science of social order.  You will conclude the term with a simulation study and research paper. Dist: SOC.


Offered in Winter 2017 at the 10A hour with Professor Seth Frey. (syllabus)