Stefan Thurner’s contribution to the Workshop on “Historical Systemic Collapse” at Princeton University.
Historical study is traditionally centered around culture, societies, peoples, and individual biography. A novel approach we hope to investigate and contribute to the field is to focus on the critical systems within these historical collapses, and which mechanisms and events contributed to or precipitated systemic failure. By providing a comparative analysis of various collapses, we hope to ascertain whether there are systemic failures that are overlooked and undervalued in our modern-day systems. The ultimate goal is to make the systems which underpin our modern civilization more robust and resilient. Many of these historical collapses have decimated populations, and the ultimate goal of the project would be to learn original insights through the lens of systems-thinking towards the goal of preventing the catastrophic loss of life.