Project SU15d: Complexity theory in geography

Project SU15d: Complexity theory in geography

Researcher: Eun-Kyeong Kim

Semester for work to be done: Summer 2015

Position type: computational geography and modeling; geographic education

Application deadline: 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2015

Application URL:

Project description

I am seeking one or two undergraduate students to assist with a part of my course development for "Complexity Theory in Geography" at the undergraduate level that I will teach in the future. Geographic phenomena are often complex systems in which a tremendous number of elements and interactions among them are involved and global patterns emerge from local interactions of individual elements. For example, geographic complex systems can include:

• human movements in urban environments;

• residential segregation in terms of individuals’ racial and ethnic preferences;

• "The tragedy of the commons" in terms of game theory;

• species diversity arising from network dynamics.


Despite of useful perspectives of complexity theory to geographic phenomena, there have been little efforts to develop courses that train how to properly apply concepts and methods of complexity science to geographic phenomena. This project aims at designing an undergraduate level course for "Complexity Theory in Geography." For this goal, potential tasks of undergraduate assistants are:

1)Reviewing syllabi of existing courses on complexity theory for geographic phenomena in other universities in the U.S. and Europe, also referring to introductory online courses on complexity theory (e.g. Sante Fe Institute’s online course:;

2)Learning basic concepts of complexity theory from me or by themselves;

3)Then, giving me feedback on how difficult it is and helping me come up with more straightforward examples of geographic phenomena.


For undergraduate assistants who are interested in complexity theories including fractal theory, network theory, game theory, and agent-based modeling, this summer project will be a great opportunity to learn basic concepts, methods, and their applications of complexity science in geographic context, with my helps; depending on assistants' interest, they can experience NetLogo, the most famous agent-based programming language (

Desired qualifications

Candidates who are willing to learn concepts and methods of complexity science and apply them to geographic phenomena of their own interest; it could be any topics in geography, but topics of interest must be quantifiable in either quantitative or qualitative way to be modeled from a complexity science perspective. As background knowledge, candidates who have learned high school algebra and/or any kind of programming languages are desired; however, other candidates who have no backgrounds will be considered as well. Candidates must be willing to contribute 40–120 total hours of work toward the project over the semester, resulting in 1–3 credit hours applied to the transcript.


To apply

Prospective candidates should submit application to by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 15, 2015.

A complete application must include:

1. All required fields of online form:

2. A one-page cover letter identifying the position for which you're applying and stating your interest in conducting research, your academic preparation, the skills you hope to gain from this experience, and contact information of two references.

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_letterMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_letter1114.pdf)

3. A resume

  • Upload a PDF document named as follows: FirstinitialLastname_resumeMMYY.pdf (e.g. jvender_resume1114.pdf)