Webcast Recap

Public Engagement in an Age of Complexity, a project of the Science & Technology Innovation Program, is proud to host economist David Colander to discuss the ideas in his new book, Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up, co-written with Roland Kupers. The book has received rave reviews: Economist Herb Gintis called it “marvelous and compelling . . . the best book on public policy in years,” while Bloomberg View columnist Mark Buchanan said it “ought to be on every policymaker’s reading list.”

What makes the book so compelling is that Colander and Kupers develop a new complexity policy frame that sheds a different perspective on age-old policy questions. The authors trace the history of economic policy analysis and argue that when the current control theory policy frame developed in the 1930s, it placed the policy debate into a “fruitless standoff about unsophisticated positions” that pitted the free market against the government.

They argue that because complexity science “explores highly interconnected systems mathematically and develops models that shed light on how such interconnected systems work,” it leads to a new, richer policy frame. Specifically, Colander and Kupers argue a complexity-driven policy narrative leads to novel “activist laissez-faire” solutions to societal problems, in which government ecostructure policy encourages individuals’ social nature, thereby opening up new domains for social entrepreneurship and allowing society’s problems to be solved from the bottom up.

Colander is Distinguished College Professor at Middlebury College and has been President of both the Eastern Economics Society and the History of Economics Society. He is the author of more than 200 articles and 40 academic books and his Principles of Economics book with McGraw Hill is in its 9th edition.

Copies of Complexity and the Art of Public Policy will be available for sale at the event.

David Rejeski, director of the Science & Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center, will lead the discussion, which will include time for audience questions. A light lunch will be served at noon.

For more information or press inquiries, please contact Aaron Lovell at (202) 691-4320 or aaron.lovell@wilsoncenter.org

More information about Public Engagement in an Age of Complexity can be found here: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/public-engagement-age-complexity