Social Dynamics and Evolution

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Social Dynamics and Evolution (SDE) is a Focused Research Group at UC Irvine that is PhD-granting within the Mathematical Behavioral Sciences Ph.D. program. It was founded to advance interdisciplinary Anthropology as a scientific discipline and addresses biological, cognitive, social, cultural and cross-cultural aspects of human societies with a special focus on complex dynamics and evolutionary processes. The MBS encourages applications for the PhD program for students interested in pursuing an Anthropology, MBS, or Social Science degree with strong emphasis on mathematical modeling, computational and quantitative methods, and cross-disciplinary linkages. In the years 2004-2011 the SDE group sponsored biweekly intercampus video conferences linking live talks and discussions with UCI, UCSD, UCLA and UCR or UCD Campuses on issues of Human Social Complexity (HSD). These were recorded digitally as iTunes.UCI streaming video. Out of these interactions, as with world-class modelers Judea Pearl (causal analysis) and Halbert White (statistical foundations of econometric dynamics), the MBS SDE group established its sister group, Social Dynamics and Complexity (SDC) at the Santa Fe Institute, which began in 2010 to sponsor the annual SFI Causality/Robustness Working Group. The SDC provided continuing sponsorship of a number of UCI/MBS graduate students (B. Tolga Oztan, Giorgio Gosti-- now a Postdoc at Uni Rome, Elliott Wagner-- now Asst. Prof. at Kansas State, and visiting graduate scholar Ren Feng-- now Asst. Prof. at Xiamen University in China). A current SDE/MBS PhD Student is B. Tolga Oztan, expected to complete the PhD in 2016.

Starting in 2005 the SDE group founded the SDEAS eScholarship journal, Structure and Dynamics: eJournal of Anthropological and Related Sciences, under Doug White's editorship, with two other SDE faculty (Bell and Colby), 14 UCI Associate Editors in the SDE group, and 14 distinguished International editors. In 2008 the SDE group established the second IMBS-sponsored eScholarship Journal, World Cultures (WC), previously founded by White in 1986 and now under the editorship of archaeologist J. Patrick Gray (Univ. Wisconsin-Milwaulkee). Our publications of cross-cultural research in World Cultures attracted the attention of the Wiley Companion series who invited White to edit the Wiley Companion to Cross-Cultural Research given the expertise of the group's ejournal editors and the construction, with former Anthropology UCI PhD, Malcolm Dow, and WC editor Anthon Eff, of new statistical solutions to problems of autocorrelation and missing data imputation for a variety of modeling approaches. Meantime, White and the MBS complexity group’s (SDC and SDE) PhD students attended a UCSD-SDSC SuperComputer summer training session and won an award at SDSC. This led to an invitation and opportunity for NSF funding at SDSC to host the statistical software for our Cross-Cultural and Complex Social Network Analysis. We are now the 3rd Social Science Gateway Science Site (in first alphabetical position: Anthropology) at the national https://www.xsede.org/gateways-listing with three Galaxy systems at UCI and SFI that serve the social sciences worldwide, both locally and at SDSC, with all the major Cross-Cultural research datasets (SCCS, EthnoAtlas, Western Indians, Foragers, and a major World Archaeology database; with others under construction) and appropriate Dow-Eff modeling software. Two courses are currently running that use these new on-line research systems and databases, and a number of PhDs are using our Gateways for their thesis research. In the future there will likely be many such on-line courses using our Gateway and Galaxy sites.

This is just a brief summary of a much larger set of activities and implications of having Anthropological-Archaeological social sciences with supercomputers, dynamical modeling, causal-analysis, and Human Evolutionary Complexity inside the IMBS. White retired very early but has the next 15 years of in his career to elaborate with worldwide impact the work that his group continues to do in these research projects with continuing involvement of our MBS PhDs (White is entitled to train current and new PhDs) in Gateway-based scientific approaches, Complexity approaches as per SFI, and new NSF-supported projects.