This course will teach you an analytical and computational toolset to represent and analyze societies. We regularly experience social situations that reflect combinations of individual behaviors with both positive and negative implications. Sometimes societies produce beneficial outcomes like technological innovation, scientific discoveries, and medical improvements, among other outcomes that can improve our quality of life over time. But we also see phenomena like the ongoing pandemic where it’s difficult to coordinate individual behaviors and policies to improve public health outcomes. It also appears difficult to resolve other pressing global problems such as conflict, poverty, and environmental degradation. Why can’t societies always produce good outcomes?
This course approaches the study of societies through the lens of social dilemmas, which arise whenever individual and collective interests do not coincide. From the empty coffee pot in office break rooms to large-scale cooperation and coordination problems among governments to solve global pandemics, social dilemmas are pervasive within all groups and across social settings. The study of social dilemmas thus offers a wide window to the social sciences and how systematic approaches inform our understanding of social problems and potential solutions.
The computational modeling skills you will learn in this class are widely applicable beyond the study of social dilemmas. For example, computational modeling is useful to analyze business processes. Scientists use similar toolsets to analyze ecological and biological systems, among many other scientific problems. And you don’t need prior programming experience or advanced mathematical skills. To successfully complete this course, all you need is proficiency with high school algebra, basic computer skills, and a willingness to learn new tools and skills.
This course is eligible for honors credit through Hutton Honors College.
Catalog Information: COLL-S 105 FRESHMAN SEMINAR IN N & M