About this Course
4.8
1,114 ratings
234 reviews
We live in a complex world with diverse people, firms, and governments whose behaviors aggregate to produce novel, unexpected phenomena. We see political uprisings, market crashes, and a never ending array of social trends. How do we make sense of it? Models. Evidence shows that people who think with models consistently outperform those who don't. And, moreover people who think with lots of models outperform people who use only one. Why do models make us better thinkers? Models help us to better organize information - to make sense of that fire hose or hairball of data (choose your metaphor) available on the Internet. Models improve our abilities to make accurate forecasts. They help us make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies. They even can improve our ability to design institutions and procedures. In this class, I present a starter kit of models: I start with models of tipping points. I move on to cover models explain the wisdom of crowds, models that show why some countries are rich and some are poor, and models that help unpack the strategic decisions of firm and politicians. The models covered in this class provide a foundation for future social science classes, whether they be in economics, political science, business, or sociology. Mastering this material will give you a huge leg up in advanced courses. They also help you in life. Here's how the course will work. For each model, I present a short, easily digestible overview lecture. Then, I'll dig deeper. I'll go into the technical details of the model. Those technical lectures won't require calculus but be prepared for some algebra. For all the lectures, I'll offer some questions and we'll have quizzes and even a final exam. If you decide to do the deep dive, and take all the quizzes and the exam, you'll receive a Course Certificate. If you just decide to follow along for the introductory lectures to gain some exposure that's fine too. It's all free. And it's all here to help make you a better thinker!...
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100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 4-8 hours/week

Approx. 32 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Portuguese (Brazilian), Turkish, Ukrainian, Chinese (Simplified)

Skills you will gain

ModelingDecision-MakingEconomicsStrategic Thinking
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 4-8 hours/week

Approx. 32 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Portuguese (Brazilian), Turkish, Ukrainian, Chinese (Simplified)

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Why Model & Segregation/Peer Effects

In these lectures, I describe some of the reasons why a person would want to take a modeling course. These reasons fall into four broad categories: 1)To be an intelligent citizen of the world 2) To be a clearer thinker 3) To understand and use data 4) To better decide, strategize, and design. There are two readings for this section. These should be read either after the first video or at the completion of all of the videos.We now jump directly into some models. We contrast two types of models that explain a single phenomenon, namely that people tend to live and interact with people who look, think, and act like themselves. After an introductory lecture, we cover famous models by Schelling and Granovetter that cover these phenomena. We follows those with a fun model about standing ovations that I wrote with my friend John Miller. ...
Reading
12 videos (Total 124 min), 6 readings, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
Why Model?8m
Intelligent Citizens of the World11m
Thinking More Clearly10m
Using and Understanding Data10m
Using Models to Decide, Strategize, and Design15m
Sorting and Peer Effects Introduction5m
Schelling's Segregation Model11m
Measuring Segregation11m
Peer Effects6m
The Standing Ovation Model18m
The Identification Problem10m
Reading6 readings
Welcome10m
Grading Policy10m
Course FAQ10m
Syllabus10m
Help us learn more about you!10m
Segregation and Peer Effects10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Why Model? & Segregation and Peer Effects12m

2

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Aggregation & Decision Models

In this section, we explore the mysteries of aggregation, i.e. adding things up. We start by considering how numbers aggregate, focusing on the Central Limit Theorem. We then turn to adding up rules. We consider the Game of Life and one dimensional cellular automata models. Both models show how simple rules can combine to produce interesting phenomena. Last, we consider aggregating preferences. Here we see how individual preferences can be rational, but the aggregates need not be.There exist many great places on the web to read more about the Central Limit Theorem, the Binomial Distribution, Six Sigma, The Game of Life, and so on. I've included some links to get you started. The readings for cellular automata and for diverse preferences are short excerpts from my books Complex Adaptive Social Systems and The Difference Respectively....
Reading
12 videos (Total 138 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
Central Limit Theorem18m
Six Sigma5m
Game of Life14m
Cellular Automata18m
Preference Aggregation12m
Introduction to Decision Making5m
Multi-Criterion Decision Making8m
Spatial Choice Models11m
Probability: The Basics10m
Decision Trees14m
Value of Information8m
Reading1 reading
Decision Models10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Aggregation & Decision Models16m

3

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Thinking Electrons: Modeling People & Categorical and Linear Models

In this section, we study various ways that social scientists model people. We study and contrast three different models. The rational actor approach, behavioral models, and rule based models . These lectures provide context for many of the models that follow. There's no specific reading for these lectures though I mention several books on behavioral economics that you may want to consider. Also, if you find the race to the bottom game interesting just type "Rosemary Nagel Race to the Bottom" into a search engine and you'll get several good links. You can also find good introductions to "Zero Intelligence Traders" by typing that in as well....
Reading
12 videos (Total 130 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video12 videos
Rational Actor Models16m
Behavioral Models12m
Rule Based Models12m
When Does Behavior Matter?12m
Introduction to Linear Models4m
Categorical Models15m
Linear Models8m
Fitting Lines to Data11m
Reading Regression Output11m
From Linear to Nonlinear6m
The Big Coefficient vs The New Reality11m
Reading1 reading
Categorical and Linear Models10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Modules Thinking Electrons: Modeling People & Categorical and Linear Models20m

4

Section
Clock
3 hours to complete

Tipping Points & Economic Growth

In this section, we cover tipping points. We focus on two models. A percolation model from physics that we apply to banks and a model of the spread of diseases. The disease model is more complicated so I break that into two parts. The first part focuses on the diffusion. The second part adds recovery. The readings for this section consist of two excerpts from the book I'm writing on models. One covers diffusion. The other covers tips. There is also a technical paper on tipping points that I've included in a link. I wrote it with PJ Lamberson and it will be published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science. I've included this to provide you a glimpse of what technical social science papers look like. You don't need to read it in full, but I strongly recommend the introduction. It also contains a wonderful reference list....
Reading
13 videos (Total 132 min), 1 reading, 1 quiz
Video13 videos
Percolation Models11m
Contagion Models 1: Diffusion7m
Contagion Models 2: SIS Model9m
Classifying Tipping Points8m
Measuring Tips13m
Introduction To Growth6m
Exponential Growth10m
Basic Growth Model13m
Solow Growth Model11m
Will China Continue to Grow?11m
Why Do Some Countries Not Grow?11m
Piketty's Capital: The Power of Simple Model8m
Reading1 reading
Economic Growth10m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Modules Tipping Points & Economic Growth18m
4.8
Direction Signs

10%

started a new career after completing these courses
Briefcase

83%

got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By YKApr 7th 2018

The course presents a multitude of models that enable us to analyze human and systems behavior and interactions. By making implicit assumptions explicit we can understand real world processes better.

By GKFeb 25th 2017

Great content and lectures, that possibly provides new dimensions to look/explain the situation in context, I guess I will comeback for references to continue with this journey in to 'Model Thinking'

Instructor

Scott E. Page

Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics
Center for the Study of Complex Systems

About University of Michigan

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future....

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Once you enroll for a Certificate, you’ll have access to all videos, quizzes, and programming assignments (if applicable). Peer review assignments can only be submitted and reviewed once your session has begun. If you choose to explore the course without purchasing, you may not be able to access certain assignments.

  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

More questions? Visit the Learner Help Center.