Complexity and Big History
Workshop: July 7-9, 2023 Villanova University (remote and offline participation is welcome also)
Organizers: Andrey Korotayev ( and David LePoire (
Goal: Discuss research opportunities for the study of the complexity dimension of the Big History and developing Monograph (e.g., Springer Proceedings in Complexity)
The workshop will be held in the framework of the 2023 International Big History Association (IBHA) Conference “Humanity on a Finite Planet: A Big History Perspective”.  We will organize presentations in panels for the IBHA conference. Please let us know your interest in participating (online or in person) in this workshop and conference panel by Feb 19. If possible, please send a title of your presentation.  Please forward this invitation to anybody who might be interested in the participation (online or in person) in our workshop.
The increasing complexity in the cosmos,  life, humans, and civilizations has been a major theme of the Big History narrative. However, there are many questions regarding the driving force, the conditions, the potential relapse of this trend.  For example, what were the the most unlikely transitions?  What would have happened if a critical resource (e.g,, fossil fuel) were not available to continue greater energy use? How is the accelerating trend likely or preferably to continue as this trend can no longer continue? There also are questions concerning measurements of complexity.  Should they be based on characteristics such as energy flow, self-organization, and information processing or should these measure include their history and individual development (EVO-DEVO), functions, interacting levels, and environmental fit be considered?  What models have been applied to glean insights into their evolutionary dynamics, such as general evolutionary models, EVO-DEVO correlations, levels of information processing, dynamic kinetics, self-organizing criticality, and the principle of least action. How is it best to connect the passively driven cosmic complexity with the agency of life evolution?
Example Topics:
Increasing complexity through time (what are the conditions? What happens when the conditions are not met? What transitions are most difficult, What are the probabilities of such transitions?)
Measures (characteristics, results, history/development, functions, levels, interdependency, self-organization)
Models (Evolutionary singularity model, minimal action/energy, SOC, Dynamic Kinetic, scaling-cities, organisms, AI)
Future Directions: (Where now? Scenarios after accelerating trend, Considering alternate paths, Astrobiology)
Related Books and Papers
  • Evolution, Development and Complexity: Multiscale Evolutionary Models of Complex Adaptive Systems (Springer Proceedings in Complexity)  (2019) Editors: Georgi Yordanov Georgiev, John M. Smart, Claudio L. Flores Martinez, & Michael E. Price
  • Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution. (2005) Peter Corning, University of Chicago Press.
  • The Self-Organizing Universe: Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution. (1980) Jantsch E, Oxford.
  • Introduction to Urban Science: Evidence and Theory of Cities as Complex Systems (2021) Luis M. A. Bettencourt, MIT Press.
  • The 21st Century Singularity and Global Futures: A Big History Perspective (World-Systems Evolution and Global Futures) (2020) Editors Andrey V. Korotayev & David J. LePoire
  • The Natural Science Underlying Big History. (2014) Eric J. Chaisson
  • The Evolution and Development of the Universe (2008) Editor: Clément Vidal