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The Center for Understanding Change (C4UC) is a nonprofit research center focused on understanding the impact of global changes and risk to critical infrastructure. We help our constituents understand the ripple effects of their actions and how specific changes and events affect them. We do this by leveraging the massive intellectual (and financial) investment in deep data models and advanced decision-making theory by tying them into an integrated analytical tool.

Operationally, we have three main functions: perform research in the public interest; develop resources for use by the public to facilitate research in the public interest; and educate the public in areas related to that research.

We have three key components to our research.

First, we are building a resource that allows systems-dynamics models (and other model types) to interoperate in a federation fashion, allowing the ad hoc creation of “super-models” that can run simultaneously, as if the resulting supermodel was created as a single model. At the same time, we enable the reluctant stakeholders to have their confidential models and data interoperate with models and data from other stakeholders (with perhaps conflicting interests), allowing the joint resources to be applied to a common problem without exposing sensitive data or algorithms between stakeholders. The resource we are building will also allow different model types, for instance system dynamic models and agent-based models, to interact.

Second, we are building resources to visualize the findings of these interacting models. Key to this is enabling the non-scientist decision-maker to understand the implication of the results of exercising the “super-models” (above), particularly the sensitivities of those models to various inaccuracies and unknowns. This new, implicit visualization is critical to our third key area.

Finally, our third key area of our research is applies three-dimensional Bayesian analysis techniques to quickly identify where additional research is necessary before a non-scientist manager can make an informed decision. The goal is rapid decision analysis of complex and mission-critical issues.

Our educational outreach begins with our relationship with the Santa Fe Institute, where we are leading discussions and directing education particularly related to our research (above) as applied to in these areas:

1)      Systems of system engineering

2)      Risk evaluation

3)      Risk management

4)      Decision process and strategic thinking

5)      Problem solving

6)      “Wide-Thinking” (take a holistic view of problems in a broader context)

7)      Stakeholder engagement

In addition to the Santa Fe Institute, we have spread our outreach to IMD, EABIS, NATO, and beyond. While most of our outreach to this point has been targeted at the professional scientist, it is our intent to take that educational outreach to lower educational levels to start younger students to think critically.