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Bridging the Gap Between History and Policy

Jena, Germany
Contact person
Ricardo Fernandes
E-Mail address
Working groups

Bridging the Gap Between History and Policy
Integrating historical knowledge and complex human-environmental systems modelling


Date: 12-13 December 2023
Location:  Jena, Germany and online
Venue: Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology
Online: Meeting ID and passcode are available in the Program 


This workshop is a collaborative effort between the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology and the Climate Change and History Research Initiative at Princeton University and organized by Ricardo Fernandes and Adam Izdebski. It will also be available for live streaming to reach a wider audience from these two institutions.


This interdisciplinary workshop will bring together a diverse group of historians, archaeologists, complex systems modellers, and sustainability experts. The shared objective is to explore research strategies that can generate actionable knowledge to inform policies addressing the escalating climate crisis.

To lead to effective policies, the workshop will explore research methodologies that acknowledge the intricate interplay between climatic, social, political, economic, and technological systems. These policies should address human-induced climate change and ensure sustainable development, reduce socioeconomic inequalities, and prevent catastrophic system collapses.

The techniques for modelling complex systems are rapidly evolving, with an increasing exploration of the potential of machine learning and artificial intelligence. These can be employed to generate future scenarios that inform policy decisions regarding climate change mitigation/adaptation and sustainable development. In this context, the study of the past provides invaluable observational data that can help develop models that cannot be validated otherwise, as experimenting with large social-environmental systems is practically and ethically unfeasible. History uncovers the dynamics of such multivariate systems and illustrates resilience and collapse in the face of climate change. However, to enable history to contribute substantially to systems modelling, we must consider the type of historical expertise and data required and identify the most suitable modelling tools and AI-supported technologies to enhance this interdisciplinary work.

While it may be premature to develop concrete policies, the workshop aims to discuss the design of collaborative research platforms that will eventually achieve this objective.

Final program

Tuesday, 12 December
8:45-9:00 Welcome address: Jürgen Renn
9:00-10:30 Ricardo Fernandes: Bridging the Gap Between History and Policy: perspectives and challenges
9:45-10:30 Adam Izdebski & Georgios Liakopoulos: Cycles of crisis and recovery in late medieval and early modern Macedonia

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

10:00-11:45 Takeshi Nakatsuka: Multidecadal Climate Variability as a Key Factor to Activate Regime Shifts in Human Societies
11:45-12:30 Sabina Fiolna: The social networks of cities and their impact on the environment in Asia Minor under the Roman Empire

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:15 Piotr Guzowski & Radosław Poniat Bialystok: Elementary disasters and taxes in pre-industrial Poland
14:15-15:00 Dominik Collet: The Little Ice Age. Lessons from the past

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-16:15 Albert Per Demitrios Norström: Navigating the Anthropocene: Challenges and Opportunities
16:15-17:00 Stefan Thurner: Recent modelling efforts at CSH Vienn
17:00-18:00 Discussion I

18:00-19:00 Dinner

19:00-20:00 Discussion II

Wednesday, 13 December
9:00-9:45 Anton Plicher: Modeling the energy transition on the firm level
9:45-10:30 Junling Ma: Agent-based modeling for infectious diseases

10:30-11:00 Coffee break

11:00-11:45 Ivan Savin: Agent-based modelling to integrate different disciplines for ambitious climate policy
11:45-12:30 Birgit Müller: Use of socio-environmental systems modelling to analyse land use change and impacts of policies

12:30-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:15 Gesine Steudle: Understanding Memory Mechanisms in Socio-technical Systems: The Case of an Agent-based Mobility Model
Sofia Gil Clavel: Use of Natural Language Processing and Networks to track the evolution of individuals’ factors of climate change adaptation

15:00-15:30 Coffee break

15:30-17:00 Discussion III

Further information

Visit the website for more information. 
Contact Dr. Ricardo Fernandes: and/or Prof. dr hab. Adam Izdebski: 

Download the final program here.