Studio Program

The Santa Fe Institute's Studio Program offers firms, governments, and other ACtioN members an opportunity to deeply explore the implications of complex systems theory on their work. The theories discussed, and the instructors involved, are selected to maximize their impact on challenges faced by the member. Studio participants are typically executive decision makers or senior scientists working on a particular problem or set of problems. The Santa Fe-based program is structured to enable participants to both:

  1. Develop a deep understanding of the selected complex systems tools and theories, and
  2. Practice applying those tools and theories to the issues facing their organization.

Past Studio Content Areas Include:


Understanding scientific progress and radical innovation helps leaders determine how their organization should adjust their innovation processes. However, it is often difficult to implement such changes. This session seeks to address ways in which human behavior influences an organization’s innovation or research processes—as well as challenges an organizations faces during the transition from invention to patent. Particular attention will be paid to the role of groups and group dynamics in the innovation domain.


This session begins with a discussion of the tools used to analyze scientific progress in society. This leads to an introduction to techniques used to analyze ideas and their reception within society—false facts,  first movers, open data. Particular emphasis will be made on situations in which scientific facts are rejected by large swaths of the population. The session concludes with a discussion of the future research landscape and the space of political and public opinion.


This session seeks to address ways in which human behavior influences an organization’s innovation or research processes. Particular attention will be paid to: (i) the role of groups and group dynamics in the innovation domain, and (ii) insights from collective intelligence and organizational information processing.


Innovation is increasingly distributed across a network of interconnected firms. This session focuses insights on the application of network theory to industrial innovation.


Non-trivial improvements can be obtained by exploring slight variations of current technologies or processes. However, the most significant improvements are often realized by experimenting with radically different technologies. This session examines the insights complex systems theory offers into both the processes by which radical innovation occurs, and the relationship between these innovations and the broader social-market system.

Optional Cultural Components Include:


Weather permitting, participants join select SFI faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and staff for an outdoor reception on our stunning Cowan Campus portal. Following cocktails and dinner, participants have the option of enjoying a Bocce ball tournament with fellow attendees and SFI community members. In the event of inclement weather, dinner and cocktails will be moved inside to the Noyce Hall.


Participants enjoy a mild 30 minute hike at SFI’s beautiful Miller Campus in Tesuque. The hike includes a brief mountaintop discussion where participants regroup to hash-out ideas, discuss insights gleaned from earlier content days, and to build an action plan for what they hope to get out of the remaining sessions.


Participants enjoy a private after-hours Canyon Road art tour, which features three fabulous galleries, each of which highlights a different style of artwork. On the tour, participants have the opportunity to speak with the gallerists as they delve into the work on view. The tour concludes with a visit to a wind sculpture garden, followed by dinner with SFI faculty.


To minimize the impact of Studios on our faculty’s scientific research, we currently run no more than four Studios per year. For more information about running an Applied Complexity Studio with your organization, please contact