Biological phenomena can be investigated at multiple levels, from the molecular to the cellular to the organismic to the ecological. In typical biology instruction, these levels have been segregated. Yet, it is by examining the connections between such levels that many phenomena in biology, and complex systems in general, are best explained. We describe a computation-based approach that enables students to investigate the connections between different biological levels. Using agent-based, embodied modeling tools, students model the microrules underlying a biological phenomenon (...) and observe the resultant aggregate dynamics. We describe 2 cases in which this approach was used. In both cases, students framed hypotheses, constructed multiagent models that incorporate these hypotheses, and tested these by running their models and observing the outcomes. Contrasting these cases against traditionally used, classical equation-based approaches, we argue that the embodied modeling approach connects more directly to students’ experience, enables extended investigations as well as deeper understanding, and enables “advanced” topics to be productively introduced into the high school curriculum. (shrink)
Theorizing in ecology and evolution often proceeds via the construction of multiple idealized models. To determine whether a theoretical result actually depends on core features of the models and is not an artifact of simplifying assumptions, theorists have developed the technique of robustness analysis, the examination of multiple models looking for common predictions. A striking example of robustness analysis in ecology is the discovery of the Volterra Principle, which describes the effect of general biocides in predator-prey systems. This paper details (...) the discovery of the Volterra Principle and the demonstration of its robustness. It considers the classical ecology literature on robustness and introduces two individual-based models of predation, which are used to further analyze the Volterra Principle. The paper also introduces a distinction between parameter robustness, structural robustness, and representational robustness, and demonstrates that the Volterra Principle exhibits all three kinds of robustness. *Received September 2006; revised May 2007. ‡Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Australasian Association of Philosophy, the London School of Economics, and the University of Bristol. The authors wish to thank those audiences as well as Patrick Forber, Ken Waters, Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Uri Wilensky, and Bill Wimsatt for many helpful comments. Special thanks to Giacomo Sillari for his assistance in translating Volterra's original paper and his insightful thoughts about Volterra's aims and methods. Some of the research in this paper was supported by NSF grant SES-0620887 to MW. †To contact the authors, please write to: Michael Weisberg, Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 433 Logan Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Kenneth Reisman, Pluribo, Inc., 100 Park Avenue, Suite 1600, New York, NY 10017; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Health care reform is a perennial issue in elections — partly because of the challenges facing health care and especially because health care is an important issue for the swing voters. Making reform happen is harder. There are deep divisions within each of the parties — not apparent during elections. Bipartisan support — and the willingness to accept the best legislation that can be passed as “good enough”— will be key.
The problem with “Europeans want Peace” is that they do not oppose genocidal war. They have not learned the lesson of the 1930s (that timely intervention—with American support that was sadly lacking but would end up coming anyway—could have stopped Hitler and saved millions of lives in Europe), or the lesson of Auschwitz (that genocidal crimes may warrant such intervention). Nor do they see that the“European sovereign state” they refer to, i.e., Yugoslavia, was actually a disintegrating communist federation, whose constituent (...) units have the right to choose whether to re-federate or go off on their own (like Slovenia), or that…. (shrink)
Multiple groups have interests that intersect within the new field of deep submergence archaeology. These groups‟ differing priorities present challenges for interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly as there are no established guidelines for best practices in such scenarios. Associating the term 'archaeology' with projects directed at underwater cultural heritage that are are not guided by archaeologists poses a real risk to that heritage. Recognizing that the relevant professional organizations, local laws, and conventions currently have little ability to protect pieces of cultural heritage (...) across disciplines and international boundaries, the authors propose institution-specific mechanisms, called Archaeology Review Boards , guided by local and international laws and conventions concerning cultural heritage, as the best means to provide oversight for academically centered archaeological activities at the local level. (shrink)