IU investing $7 million for new complexity institute

Indiana University Network Science Institute logo

Indiana University Network Science Institute logo

IU has announced the establishment of the Indiana University Network Science Institute, or IUNI. The $7 million initiative will bring together many of the university’s top minds to explore and embrace the challenge of understanding complex networks that underlie large-scale systems, including the environment, economics, technology and human health.

“Today, more than ever before, exploring the connections and relationships among our most complex networks — from the biological to the economic, political and social — is paramount to solving humankind’s most critical and challenging questions,” IU Vice President for Research Jorge José said. “Through the formation of this new interdisciplinary, university-wide institute, which will reflect all of the major sectors of scientific research and will be supported by the university’s robust technological infrastructure, Indiana University has positioned itself to become the leading global center for understanding the complicated structure and evolving dynamics of the systems that drive our society.”

Complex networks are at the core of an ever more interconnected social, economic and technological planet, and their connectivity and dynamics underpin nearly all aspects of how these systems function. Networks can be associated with topics as diverse as cancer, schizophrenia, even the spreading of rumors, innovations or social unrest.

Echoing the late IU Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, who said, “When the world we are trying to explain and improve … is not well-described by a simple model, we must continue to improve our frameworks and theories so as to be able to understand complexity and not simply reject it,” José said that focusing on the interactions between huge numbers of system components — be it in the brain or the global economy — places the university at the forefront of shaping new paths for research and innovation.

Three faculty members named as founding co-directors helped lead the effort to create the institute: Distinguished Professor Bernice Pescosolido, Department of Sociology; Distinguished Professor Olaf Sporns, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; and Andrew Saykin, professor of radiology and imaging sciences and director of the Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center at the IU School of Medicine.

The institute will be unique in a number of ways: Affiliated researchers will represent multiple IU campuses and will come from medicine, the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities; in addition to being focused on networks, every project supported by the institute is required to be a collaboration, a reflection of the institute itself. Four research hubs currently form the core of IUNI — Health and Health Care, Network Neuroscience, Science of Science and Social Network Science — each with the capacity to engage and share data and other resources with one another. Outreach activities, workshops and conferences and efforts toward online network science education will add to the scope of IUNI activities.

The three-year initiative — with an opportunity to renew for another three years — will be supported by IU President Michael A. McRobbie’s office, the offices of Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel and Vice President for Research José, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Informatics and Computing, and the School of Medicine.

“This new institute recognizes that we are all part of networks, and that these networks, ever evolving and changing, are inherently complex systems that present challenges to scientists across all fields,” Robel said. “With a contingent of over 100 scientists spanning all disciplines, the ties among network science researchers that already exist in the IU system are ripe for encouragement, with many new ones inevitable through support of IUNI.”

To date, affiliated faculty from 26 different schools, departments and centers have either participated in development of IUNI or expressed an interest in participating in collaborative research through the institute. Faculty participating in the institute represent one of the broadest and deepest cadres of researchers studying networks, including the College of Arts and Sciences departments of physics, psychological and brain sciences, statistics, sociology and geography; the School of Informatics and Computing at IU Bloomington; the School of Medicine; the School of Public Health-Bloomington; the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI; and centers already focused on different aspects of complex networks, such as the Indiana Center for Systems Biology and Personalized Medicine at IUPUI and the Digital Science Center at IU Bloomington.

The three co-directors applauded the announcement.

“IUNI will provide novel concepts, tools and training to address tomorrow’s challenges,” Saykin said. “We appreciate the university’s vision in supporting team science to elucidate the complex networks that comprise the human genome, brain interconnectivity, health care systems and society — creating a truly exciting and unprecedented opportunity.”

Pescosolido described the nature of the institute as a reflection of the very work that will be conducted there, an exercise in synergy.

“We live in a world where society and the problems we face represent a web of interconnections,” Pescosolido said. “When we think we have fixed one part of it, unforeseen complications arise elsewhere as unintended consequences. These are complex, connected interactions that demand a transdisciplinary approach that brings the expertise across the landscape of science to the table.”

Sporns added that the new institute recognizes the natural strengths already present at IU.

“By design, when it comes to our expertise in complex systems, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said. “With the new synergies that will be created through IUNI, we have the unique opportunity to break the mold and approach the many challenges we face in science and society from a fresh and broad perspective.”

 

by Steve Chaplin

Mike O’Connor presents “Two Santas: The Intellectual Roots of Conservative Tax Cutting”

A Commercial Republic Book Cover

Date: October 8, 2014
Time: 12:00-1:00
Location: IUPUI University Library 4115S (IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute)

“Tax-cutting is such a prominent concern among conservatives today that one could understandably believe it to be central to the meaning of conservatism. Yet this is not the case: during the middle of the twentieth century, conservatives were defined economically less by their hostility to taxes than by their commitment to balancing the federal budget. The shift between these two positions is largely the result of the influence of ‘supply-side’ economics, an intellectual orientation that arose in the 1970s as a response to a very specific set of economic circumstances. Once some conservatives noticed a political constituency for this position, however, their call to relieve the burden of taxes on the citizenry began to harden into an ideological position. The talk will explain the genesis of supply-side economics in the ‘stagflation’ of the 1970s and its conversion from an economic to a political doctrine in subsequent decades.”

Mike O’Connor is the author of A Commercial Republic: America’s Enduring Debate over Democratic Capitalism (Kansas, 2014). He has also published articles in Contemporary Pragmatism and The Sixties. O’Connor teaches at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and holds a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He was one of the original bloggers at the U.S. Intellectual History website, and served as a founding officer of the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.

IUPUI center helping K-12 students master economics

389636_w296INDIANAPOLIS — Teacher training, classroom materials and student competitions sponsored by an IUPUI academic center are giving local students a grasp of how the American economy works.

The Center for Economic Education, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a member of the Indiana Council for Economic Education, works with K-12 educators to improve their understanding of economics and personal finance. It provides teaching strategies that can be easily integrated into classroom instruction.

A coach with a long history with the center recently had two teams of Carmel High School students place among the top four at a national competition testing their knowledge of economics.

“I have been involved with the IUPUI Center for Economic Education (and the Council for Economic Education) for almost 20 years,” said Michelle Foutz, coach of the winning Carmel teams. “I consider myself fortunate to be teaching economics in a state that places great value in economics education.”

One Carmel team placed second in the Adam Smith Division of the National Economics Challenge in May, while the second placed third in the David Ricardo Division. Advanced placement, international baccalaureate and honors students compete in the Adam Smith Division. The David Ricardo Division is open to students who have only taken a single-semester economics course.

The Carmel High School teams earned their way to the national event by winning the state championship competition hosted and coordinated by the IUPUI center in partnership with the Indiana Council for Economic Education.

“Economics Challenge, Commodity Challenge, Stock Market Simulation, Key Teacher Program and Econ Camp are fantastic center and council programs that have increased my enthusiasm for teaching and have also generated a lot of student enthusiasm for learning economics,” Foutz said.

“I would love to introduce Economics Challenge to all of my students. After participating in this competition, my students have a much greater appreciation for learning economics, and they have more confidence in themselves and in what they can accomplish. I can’t say enough about the benefits of this competition, and the positive impact on my kids.”

The Indiana Economics Challenge is one of two high school competitions the IUPUI Center for Economic Education, directed by Mohammad Kaviani, coordinates. The Center, in partnership with the Indiana Council for Economic Education, also coordinates the Indiana Personal Finance Challenge, an online competition that focuses on topics related to personal finance.  These competitions help ensure that Indiana students have a basic understanding of economics and the tools for making sound financial decisions.

More than 10,500 high school students from across the country competed in the national level of the Economics Challenge. Eight teams, including the Carmel students, completed exams and a critical-thinking round in the semifinals. Bellaire High School from Houston, Texas, and Hunter College High School from New York City were named first-place winners respectively in the Adam Smith and David Ricardo divisions following quiz bowl rounds for each final four teams.

CNBC has archived news coverage of the competition available online.

New Gifts Endow Economics’ Robert Sandy Seminar Series

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo gifts to the Department of Economics in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI have endowed the Robert Sandy Seminar Series, ensuring that economics students and faculty will continue to interact with some of the discipline’s brightest researchers.

The gifts were made by professor emeritus of economics Robert Sandy and economics alumnus David Driscoll.

The seminar series began as a means to make the economics department more visible, says Professor Emeritus Robert Sandy, who served as the economics department chair for 12 years before finishing his career as an administrator within the Indiana University President’s Office. “One way the seminar helped with the visibility of the department is we would invite faculty from nearby universities to give talks and then they would meet the department and see there were people here who were serious scholars. We built a reputation step-by-step through the seminar,” he says.

As an undergraduate student at IUPUI in the late 1970s, David Driscoll was in the department in its early years. He was aware of the growth of his undergrad program as he earned his master’s and then moved to Boston and began a career as an actuary.

Driscoll has made various gifts to IUPUI and the Economics Department, also helping fund the Robert Kirk New Economics Major Award. He says the Seminar Series is good for students who get to see how economists go about developing their ideas and researching their topics.

“It’s wonderful to imagine that over the past 30-some years the department has grown so much both in terms of the quantity and quality of the faculty, and that it’s expanded immensely in terms of teaching, the research it turns out, and its reputation,” Driscoll says. “To play a small part in helping facilitate that growth is something I’m very happy to have been able to do.”

“The department’s seminar series is aptly named for our colleague Bob Sandy who worked so effectively on behalf of the department to advance its research reputation,” said William Blomquist, dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “We’re very grateful to Bob and to our alumnus David Driscoll for their generosity which ensures the series’ permanence as well as its prominence.”

Today the Robert Sandy Seminar Series features presentations on emerging topics of interest to department faculty and students as well as specialized sessions on specific economics questions. The 2013-2014 seminars kicked off with acclaimed economist Dan Hamermesh from the University of Texas Austin.

IUPUI faculty and graduate students also present their research, says Professor Henry Mak, the Seminar Series coordinator. All are encouraged to present work-in-progress and use the feedback that comes through the Seminar to enhance their research products.

“In addition to the seminars, usually we have individual meetings between the speaker and faculty and the speaker and grad students,” Mak says. “So the faculty members can benefit from interacting with the speaker and the students can also benefit because they can talk about their own research and get some feedback.”

“We were pretty close to off-the-charts when the seminar began-near the bottom of econ departments around the nation,” Sandy says. “[Ten years later] we were competitive with Ph.D. programs around the nation. The culture of the department changed. The seminar makes a huge difference and with my and David’s gifts, I hope the department can draw an even wider circle of influence.”

Lecture: Mathias Persson, “From Enlightenment to enlightenments: On the Revision of a Monolithic Concept”

Cavanaugh Hall, Room 438
12:00-1:15 pm

Professor Mathias Persson, Department of Economic History, University of Uppsala, Sweden, will present a lecture on Monday October 21, 2013. The topic of Professor Persson’s talk will be “From Enlightenment to enlightenments: On the Revision of a Monolithic Concept.”

Since the 1960s, the once predominant idea of a singular, iconoclastic Enlightenment anchored in the Parisian salons has gradually faded away and been replaced by a plurality of enlightenments, displaying various agendas and taking place in miscellaneous settings. This lecture will outline these developments and give examples of how the concept of enlightenment has been construed during this protracted process, which reflects wider societal and academic transformations and has parallels in other fields of historical research.

British ambassador to promote free trade in speech at IUPUI

During a visit to Indianapolis this week to meet with corporate and civic leaders to promote free trade, British Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott will deliver a speech at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

In his talk titled “Brits and Hoosiers: Partners in Prosperity,” the ambassador will reflect on the implications of the G8 summit, the potential trans-Atlantic trade agreement and trade opportunities for Hoosiers with the United Kingdom. The presentation takes place at 10 a.m. Friday, June 21, at IUPUI Hine Hall, formerly University Place Conference Center and Hotel, 850 W. Michigan St. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

In his first visit to the Hoosier state, the ambassador will highlight the United Kingdom’s role in Indiana’s economy, which exports more than $1 billion in goods to the U.K. and benefits from more than 29,000 jobs supported by British companies.

Westmacott will arrive in Indiana shortly after Britain hosts President Barack Obama and other world leaders June 17 and 18 at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland. International trade will be a central issue at the G8 summit.

While in Indianapolis, the ambassador also will visit Rolls-Royce, which employs more than 6,000 people at the British company’s global headquarters for helicopters and small gas turbine engines.

Follow along with the Ambassador’s visit online at www.gov.uk/world/usa, on Facebook and on Twitter.

Those who cannot attend the event can follow live tweets from the ambassador’s speech on the @IUPUI Twitter handle and through the #globalIndy hashtag. The ambassador will also take questions sent to @IUPUI on Twitter.

Develop Indy and IUPUI have provided support for the ambassador’s visit.

 

Britain and Indiana by the numbers

* In 2011, Indiana exported about $1.1 billion in goods to the United Kingdom.

* British companies including Rolls-Royce, BP, BAE Systems and GKN employ 29,100 Indiana residents, more than a fifth of all Indiana jobs created by foreign companies.

Learn more about the British-American trade relationship at www.ukustrade.com.

 

About the British Consulate-General in Chicago

The British Consulate-General in Chicago represents the United Kingdom throughout 13 states, including Indiana. Led by British Consul General Robert Chatterton Dickson, the Consulate-General’s 25 staff work to support British businesses in the region and help American businesses interested in doing business in Britain. The Consulate-General also supports British nationals, communicates news from the British government and facilitates exchanges between leaders in politics, education, science and the arts.

For media queries, please contact Jonathan Daniel, vice consul for policy and communications at the British Consulate-General in Chicago: jonathan.daniel@fco.gov.uk or 312-970-3808.