To support the dialogue between science and society, as well as researchers across different disciplines, IRI THESys holds both external and internal events. This includes lecture series, summer universities and panel discussions open to the public, and participative workshops, colloquiums and activities for IRI THESys. Browse through our past and upcoming events to find out more.

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  • Jun

    Interdisciplinary Dialogue - Situated Modelling Group

    How does the political enter the model?

    Hybrid: IRI THESys & on Zoom
    07 June 2024, 1 PM.

    Please contact Anja Klein if you would like to join and to receive the zoom link.


    Computer simulations that model social-ecological relations are an important source of scientific knowledge. It is now widely accepted that values enter modelling exercises and affect modelling outcomes. However, there remain open questions on the concrete ways in which they do, and on what this means for scientific practice. This interdisciplinary panel brings together perspectives from philosophy (Simon Hollnaicher), Anthropology (Anja Klein), Science and Technology Studies (Krystin Unverzagt), and Integrated Assessment Modelling (David Chen). Each speaker presents a distinct entry point to the issue at stake. The panellists provide concrete examples from their ongoing empirical or philosophical research on modelling or from working with models, to hone in on how exactly the political enters the model.

    The Panelists

    Simon Hollnaicher is a philosopher who has worked on value questions arising in modelling pathways with Integrated Assessment Models. From an outside perspective, he aims to explicate concrete value questions arising in modelling exercises and reflects on how we can distinguish legitimate from illegitimate value influences in scientific policy advice.

    David Chen is a modeler working with Integrated Assessment Models. He is further developing the MAgPIE model, an agro-economic global food system model, on the issue of global food security. He critically reflects on the model structure, e.g. the economic optimization, the downscaling of global models, and how MAgPIW feeds into policy processes, e.g. via the IPCC.

    Krys Unverzagt conducted an ethnography of participatory modeling with Causal Loop Diagrams. She used STS to analyze the performativity of such modeling practices, e.g. with regard to the different ethics they enact

    Anja Klein also works ethnographically on modeling practices, in particular on Agent-based models and statistical modeling of social-ecological phenomena. As an anthropologist, she is interested in the social and material embeddedness of such practices, e.g. in global North-South research funding schemes, and how this affects who makes what decisions in modeling. She also collaborates with modelers on doing ABMs differently, applying process relational approaches.

    More information

    The Situated Modelling (SitMod) working group aims at fostering a reflexive and co-laborative approach to modelling human-environmental relations. We call this approach “Situated Modelling” drawing on Donna Haraway’s (1988) notion of situated knowledges. Situated Modelling is a way of researching and reflecting on modelling practices, which ultimately and in collaborative engagement might also lead to modelling differently.

    More information about the working group can be found here.