Study Complex Behaviors Across Systems


Program Overview • Dates & Times • Registration Fee • Program Goals • Venue • Faculty • Audience • Application Requirements • Outcomes


Program Overview

Complex Systems Summer School (CSSS) offers an intensive four-week introduction to complex behavior in mathematical, physical, living, and social systems. CSSS brings together graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professionals to transcend disciplinary boundaries, take intellectual risks, and ask big questions about complex systems. The residential program comprises a series of lectures and workshops devoted to theory and tools, applications-focused seminars, and discussions with faculty and fellow participants. CSSS participants put what they learn from these didactic sessions into practice through group research projects, conducted throughout the program and often extending into manuscripts and longer-term collaborations. CSSS provides an unparalleled opportunity for early-career researchers to expand their professional networks, produce a novel research product, and gain valuable experience working in transdisciplinary teams.

Dates & Times

June 11 - July 7, 2023.

Summer School is a full-time (all-day) commitment. Participants are expected to attend the entire program.

Registration Fee

The registration fee for participants from academic institutions: $4,500. 

The registration fee for participants from the corporate/private sector: $6,000. 

The registration fee covers course-related costs, accommodations, and meals. Students are responsible for the cost of travel.

Once accepted to the program, participants may apply for a small number of partial registration fee waivers that are awarded based on need. Please read more under CSSS FAQs.

Here is a list of third-party funding sources that have been helpful for past participants. Please double-check that information is up to date.

Program Goals
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the theory and methods used to describe and predict the behavior of complex systems.
  • Explore the latest applications of complex systems science to diverse research questions.
  • Collaborate on a transdisciplinary research project in complex systems science. Explore past CSSS projects on our Projects pages.
  • Connect with future colleagues and collaborators and the SFI research community.
campus of IAIA atrium at the Santa Fe Institute museum in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico
Institute of American Indian Arts Santa Fe Institute downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Summer School sessions take place on the campuses of the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Participants are accommodated in student dormitories on the IAIA campus.The IAIA campus is located in a beautiful Southwest high desert setting with mountain views, extensive walking trails, and quiet places for contemplation, and a short drive to the SFI campus.


Program Director Dave Feldman is a professor of physics and mathematics at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. He has been involved in CSSS since 2004. Feldman served as co-director of CSSS Beijing from 2006 to 2008 and has directed CSSS in Santa Fe since 2017. He has published two books, one an introductory textbook on chaos and fractals and a book on dynamical systems that is part of the Primers in Complex Systems series. Feldman is a major contributor to Complexity Explorer, where you can take his courses on Dynamical Systems and Chaos and Fractals and Scaling.

portrait of Tamra portrait of Santiago
Tamara van der Does serves as Summer School's Program Manager. Tamara is a computational sociologist interested in understanding how social and cultural environments shape the development of inividual beliefs and identities. Her current research focuses on: (1) the development and consequences of symbolic boundaries (“us” and “them”), and (2) how beliefs and social identities change and interact with social networks. She has a PhD in Sociology from Indiana University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. Santiago Guisasola joins the Summer School as Project Coordinator. He is a game theorist who specializes in mathematically modeling social and behavioral phenomena, with roles in both the private sector and in academia. Santiago served as the instructor for's Introduction to Complex Systems course for several years, and he was a CSSS participant in 2016. He holds a PhD in Mathematical Behavioral Sciences from University of California, Irvine, and completed postdoctoral work at Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (Brazil).

Complex Systems Summer School speakers include SFI Faculty and invited experts. The 2023 CSSS faculty is:

Mahzarin Banaji • implicit bias | Jenna Bednar • democracies | Luís Bettencourt • cities | Samuel Bowles • economics & inequality | Liz Bradley • nonlinear dynamics | Ted Chiang • science fiction | Aaron Clauset • networks | Liz Derryberry • communication | Jennifer Dunne • food webs | James Evans • collective knowing | Laura Fortunato • cooperation | Mirta Galesic • belief dynamics | Chris Klausmeier • communities | David Krakauer • complexity | Elena Litchman • ecosystem change | Ian MacGregor Fors • biodiversity | Pablo Marquet • robustness | Melanie Mitchell • artificial intelligence | Holly Moeller • metabolism | Martin Nilsson Jacobi • stability & collapse | Brandon Ogbunu • institutions | Elly Power • social structure | André de Roos • population structure | Diego Santiago Alarcón • parasites | Van Savage • scaling | Rajiv Sethi • fairness | Porter Swentzell • Indigenous culture | Adreas Wagner • fitness | Geoffrey West • singularities | Thalia Wheatley • collective emotions | Pamela Yeh • evolution | Hyejin Youn • innovation

[changes are possible]


Applications are accepted from graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and professionals in any discipline, including fields not traditionally represented in the sciences (e.g. the humanities or arts) who feel their work connects to a rigorous study of complex systems. 

Applicants from any country are welcome. Accepted applicants who are not US citizens or permanent residents will receive assistance with visa sponsorship as appropriate to their individual circumstances.

SFI policy requires participants to provide proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination prior to beginning the program.


The CSSS team is committed to offering inclusive educational programs in which all participants feel valued and supported in their learning journey. We believe that human diversity in all of its dimensions is essential to meaningful scientific progress. We believe that open discourse and respectful sharing of broad perspectives is essential for understanding our world. We work to ensure our educational programs reflect and encourage this diversity and inclusivity, and we welcome you to join us.


Application Requirements

While the application period is open, access the application system through the "Apply now!" button at the top right of your screen.

Applicants should submit: 

  • Biographical information (filled out directly in the application portal).
  • A current academic CV or résumé, including a list of publications, if any.
  • A statement that describes your scholarly interests in complex systems and your goals in attending Summer School (maximum two pages).
  • Two letters of recommendation: one from a supervisor and one from a collaborator.