POLDER aims to unravel the complexity of societal challenges in order to optimise the impact of policy measures and reduce uncertainty in an increasingly interwoven and rapidly changing world. In order to face our current and future challenges, we need to understand how to navigate a complex world: e.g. how to detect early warning signals, how to increase resilience, how to responsibly and effectively intervene in complex adaptive systems?

POLDER makes fundamental knowledge and research methodologies from complexity science applicable to real-world problems. Complexity science studies all kinds of coupled processes, in which feedback mechanisms lead to nonlinear systemic responses. It brings together knowledge from different disciplines (e.g. natural and engineering sciences, statistics, economics, behavioural and social sciences, law, ethics, public administration) and then uses mathematical and computational methods to describe how systems organise themselves, how small disturbances can multiply rapidly, and how interventions can lead to completely unintended effects, cascades, tipping points and even catastrophic collapse. By mapping the dynamics of the underlying intertwined processes, and then using simulation methods to investigate various what-if scenarios, new avenues of policy-making can be explored.

Stage 1: Unraveling the problem, using a Causal Loop Diagram
A conceptual model of the challenge is built based on data analysis, literature review and expert interviews
Stage 2: Testing various what-if scenarios, using a System Dynamics Model and simulation tools
A computational model of the challenge is built to analyse the potential outcome of different interventions.