Select Page

Open Property Regimes as Complex Adaptive Systems
Chaired by Mark Moritz

October 31–November 2, 2017

Open Property Regimes as Complex Adaptive Systems

The research team seminar worked to develop a theoretical model of property regimes* as complex adaptive systems**. The seminar built on Mark Moritz’s project, CAREER: Pastoral Management of Open Access, The Emergence of a Complex Adaptive System, which found evidence that pastoralists’ management of common-pool grazing resources works as a self-organizing complex adaptive system. There are indications that other social-ecological systems, notably fisheries and foraging societies, have property regimes that work in similar ways. Multiple lines of evidence from ethnographic analysis, spatial analyses, agent-based modeling, and comparative studies show that the complex adaptive system is efficient, equitable, and resilient.

Seminarians used the conceptual framework of complex adaptive systems to explain the dynamics of property regimes across a wide range of social-ecological systems, including pastoral societies, marine fisheries, floodplain fisheries, and foraging societies. The intensive collaboration provided by the opportunity to interact in a space specifically designed for focused discussion allowed seminar participants to compare critically multiple cases of complex social-ecological systems to advance a new theoretical model and develop an innovative research program.  It is hoped that this program will make transformative contributions that move anthropology and other fields forward.

Participants wrote an article for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that synthesizes the results from the discussions at the School for Advanced Research. It was published here on November 28, 2018.


Mark Moritz, Chair
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, The Ohio State University

Ian Hamilton
Associate Professor, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University

Sui Chian Phang
Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University

James Wilson
Professor, Department of Marine Sciences and Economics, University of Maine

Christine Beitl
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Maine

Rebecca Bird
Professor, Department of Anthropology, Penn State University

Stefani Crabtree
Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Anthropology, Penn State University

Roy Behnke
Research Associate, Department of Anthropology, University College London

Rafael Morais Chiaravalloti
Research Fellow, Institute of Ecological Research, Brazil

*particular social arrangements regulating the preservation, maintenance, and consumption of a common-pool resource

** a group of semi-autonomous agents who interact in interdependent ways to produce system-wide patterns, such that those patterns then influence behavior of the agents

Generous funding provided by the National Science Foundation