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Heron Island Complex Systems Summer School 2012

January 16 to 27, 2012

We will be holding a two week summer school and workshop on Complex Systems Research and Methods in Business and Biology (CSBB) on Heron Island, Queensland, Australia from Monday 16 January to Friday 27 January, 2012. Several eminent scientists from Australia, Europe and North American have already committed to participate. The course follows on from complex systems research summer schools previously held by the Centre for Research in Complex Systems (CRiCS) at Charles Sturt University. There will be several scholarships offered for suitably qualified candidates to join the course, which will be, in part, held at the University of Queensland's Research Station on the site as well as at the Heron Island Resort. Reduced rates have been negotiated for those attending the course and their partners.


  • The University of Sydney Business School
  • The University of Sydney Business School, Discipline of Marketing
  • Centre for Industry and Innovation Studies, University of Western Sydney
  • NICTA (National ICT Australia Ltd)
  • University of Queensland
**Note: Additional funding support is being sought and we welcome enquiries from potential sponsors of this event


Business is arguably the human enterprise that drives our use (and abuse) of natural resources more than any other activity. Business and the biosphere are therefore two complex systems intricately linked. Achieving global sustainability thus requires understanding the complex structure and dynamics of "coupled business and biological systems" and particularly developing tools to analyse their interconnectivity across multiple scales of space, time and organisation... This leads us away from disciplinary models of isolated systems to the development of integrated regional models right up to modelling the whole earth system. Our summer school will explore new advances and techniques that can be applied to model coupled business and biological systems from local to global scales.

Course Details:

We have secured the interest of various senior and important scientists to come to Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef in the second half of January 2012 to participate in a programme on complex systems that celebrates, informs, educates and explores the nature, meaning, scope and applications of complex systems science to business, social and biological systems. The course will begin with a 3 day intensive course and refresher on NetLogo, followed by a series of intensive workshops and lectures on aspects of complex systems theory, research and methods. Participants will be assisted in the development and implementation of their own research projects. Attendees will be research students and academics and others interested in learning more about complex systems science and methods. Course details will be available during October.

Course Leaders

Professors Terry Bossomaier (CSU) and Ian Wilkinson (USYD and SDU) will be ably supported by Professors Lael Parrott (U Montreal), Terrill Frantz (Carnegie Mellon University/Peking University), Bob Marks (UNSW and UMelb), Louise Young (UWS and SDU), Scott Heckbert (Portland State University) and the ever resourceful Fabian Held (USYD). All this supplemented by a distinguished assortment of complex systems specialists from business, economics, computing, biology and other relevant sciences who present their work and ideas in a series of focused lectures, workshops and seminars. Among additional participants are:

  • Madeleine Beekman (University of Sydney) Confirmed
  • Carl Chiarella (University of Technology Sydney) Confirmed
  • John Crawford (The University of Sydney) Confirmed
  • Len Fisher (University of Bristol, UK) Confirmed
  • Joseph Lizier (Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences) Confirmed
  • Tim Schaerf (University of Sydney) Confirmed
  • Ben Oldroyd (University of Sydney) Confirmed
  • Jonathan Vos Post (Computer Futures, USA) Confirmed
  • Mikhail Prokopenko (CSIRO) Confirmed
  • Paul Ormerod (University of Durham and Volterra Partners) Confirmed
  • Rosalind Wang (CSIRO) Confirmed
  • Janet Wiles (University of Queensland) Confirmed
  • Uri Wilensky (Northwestern University) Confirmed
  • David C. Earnest (Old Dominion University) Confirmed

Short profiles of course participants can be found here. Download PDF

The Island:

Heron Island from the air

Heron Island provides a dramatic background to initiate the integration of biology and business thinking. We will see complex biological systems in action and learn about them and learn how to model them, at the same time will experience their interdependence with regional and tourism development. Heron Island offers excellent research and conference facilities; we have run several successful research conferences there. It is also a very good time of the year to go there biologically because of nesting time providing a unique place to attract eminent scientists to, especially during the Northern Hemisphere winter!

Heron Island is a genuine coral island - not the top of a mountain in the sea as many other islands are. You can take a short helicopter ride from Gladstone to Heron and see it as you will never forget. We will probably get our own dive boat each afternoon to go snorkelling and diving. There are diving lessons to be had and the structure of the day will allow for such activities. We have run conferences at Heron Island before - it is paradise. Check it out on:

January will be a great time to visit the Great Barrier Reef, as Heron Island not only has the coral, but also bird nesting colonies for Noddy Turns, Mutton Birds, Rails and others that are all having babies around this time. It is also a turtle nesting site and the turtles will be coming in at night and laying their eggs (you can look) and towards the end of a typical day nests of hatchlings will hatch and little armies of cute mini turtlettes will make an avalanche to the sea (and you can try to protect them from the crabs and the sharks!). Optional diving boats tours will be available at subsidised rates so that people can experience the complex coral ecology directly as well as the birds, turtles, and fish!


We have locked in accommodation at the Research Station for up to 36 people at $94 per night. There are bunk beds of four to a room downstairs and two to a room upstairs (so couples can stay there) and shared facilities are located on both floors. We are planning to arrange for self catering at the research station and lunches and dinners can also be had at the resort.

Unfortunately, no children can stay at the research station - sorry!

Further accommodation is available at the Heron Island resort at discounted rates, starting at AUD339.15 per twin share (double occupancy) per night, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some rooms have been secured and are limited, though potentially expandable at this stage. Please contact us directly and we will let you know how to arrange the booking.

Transportation to Heron Island is available by boat, with a complimentary shuttle service from Gladstone Airport, at a price of AUD199 (return).

Application, Fees and Funding:

Due to numerous requests and the long weekend in Australia, the first round of applications deadline has been extended until 8 October 2011. We will inform applicants of the outcome shortly thereafter. The website for registration will then become available. Course admission will be by merit and motivation. Preference will be given to those who attended the July Intensive ABM course at the University of Sydney.

The registration fee will be AUD500, with an early bird special of AUD400, available until the end of October. We are still seeking funding support from various sources and aim to fund scholarships to help research students attend and stay at the research station.

Bottom Line:

We now seek to firm up people's interests and availability to come to Heron Island for what we believe will be a memorable event. It will bring together an international group of high class researchers, addressing interdisciplinary topics at the forefront of science in biology and business.

Also, Heron Island is a really nice place - people will be free to stay on for longer as a family holiday! We look forward to hearing from you.