Dirk Brockmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Robert-Koch-Institut

Digital tools, natural experiments & citizen science - an anti-disciplinary perspective on entangled challenges of today (and tomorrow)

Among the very many lessons learned during the past three years that were dominated by the global unfolding of the pandemic was the insight that pandemics, much like the imminent climate collapse, are complex, dynamic phenomena that unfold across traditionally separated scientific discplines: virology, clinical research, epidemiology, social science, psychology, behavioral science, economics and political science to name a few. The pandemic showed quite clearly that the traditional approach of „vertical reductionism“ in which each discipline focuses on only „its“ parts of the phenomenon has limited success. Likewise, it showed us quite convincingly that methods, approaches and scientific protocols developed for their application on known terrain and routine situations are inadequate and slow. I will discuss how complex phenomena such as pandemics, climate change and related phenomena can be viewed from a complexity science perspective that, by definition, keeps the whole phenonenon in focus and reductionism is based on disentangling essential from negligable factors. I will also discuss how data science, computational science, network sciences, a new quality on behavioral data, citizen science and natural experiments deliver a solid and promising foundation for this approach.