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Exploring the science of complexity in aid policy and practice

Time (GMT +01) 00:00 23:59

John Young - RAPID, ODI

The workshop was chaired by John Young, and began with two keynote presentations by Eve Mittleton-Kelly and Ralph Stacey, of LSE and University of Hertfordshire respectively, who shared substantive findings of their ongoing work in this area.

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion with Ben Ramalingam, Robert Chambers and Chris Mowles on the ODI working paper, Exploring the science of complexity, which was published in February 2008.

The afternoon was comprised of an Open Space session on methods and approaches related to complexity and a peer-to-peer learning session exploring four real-world applications of complexity.

At the end of the meeting, it was decided that future seminars will be held in the ‘exploring the sciences of complexity’ series. The second one will be held at IDS on 3 October 2008 on Knowledge and Learning, and will feature Dave Snowden. Participants also called for building a collection of methodologies that people could use and adapt to help navigate their way through complex situations, though the exact shape this collection will take is yet undecided.


The aim of this seminar was to bring together practitioners and researchers to discuss the key ideas of complexity thinking and the relevance they have for those working in the international aid sector. It was also hoped that concrete and practical ways to take this area of work forward, both collectively and within individual organisations, would be identified.