The CST’s Rika Preiser has been awarded a fellowship at the Peter Wall lnstitute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia for the academic year August 2021-July 2022.

The Wall Scholars Program offers scholars from all disciplines and career stages a year-long residence at the Institute to engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research that challenges and expands their ways of thinking.

The Institute facilitates collaboration between scholars of diverse backgrounds to engage in deep and unconstrained research into some of the most profound questions and challenges facing humanity. The Institute and seeks to create cohorts and communities of scholarship that stretch across both time and geographies.

This transformational opportunity provides scholars with the space and time to freely explore, while supporting intellectual risk-taking and fostering deep and long-lasting connections gives scholars time away from their regular activities to explore new ways of thinking and build new connections with scholars outside of their field.

Rika’s research explores the philosophical and conceptual development of the features and dynamics that characterise complex adaptive systems and how complexity thinking can inform novel ways of inquiry in participatory and qualitative research methods. Her research draws on more than 10 years of applying complexity concepts to various fields of study. Her contribution lies in translating what the concepts mean or imply in various disciplines and domains of application. Studying and understanding the multi-scale, interconnected and continuously evolving complex systems that characterise contemporary societies—such as the economy, food supply, cities, the power grid, technological innovation, to name a few—demands in-depth understanding of the mechanisms and processes of how change and transformation occur within these systems.

Rika is one of a few African complexity theorists that work on the African continent and brings her experience of the socio-political and scientific importance of complexity for a developing continent and offers contextual insights in how complexity thinking can be studied and applied from an interdisciplinary and African perspective. More recently her research is focussed on understanding the interconnected nature of social-ecological systems and the challenges they pose for creating more sustainable futures at the science-society interface. She is co-editor of the newly published Handbook: A Guide to Navigating Methods for Studying Social-Ecological Systems (Routledge 2021). This volume represents the first serious effort to introduce complexity-based research methods for studying social-ecological systems.

The Wall Scholars Program residency runs August to July each year.