Columbia University
Pets, Politics and Pandemics
Columbia University

Pets, Politics and Pandemics

Taught in English


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Simon Billinge

Instructor: Simon Billinge

Beginner level

Recommended experience

11 hours to complete
3 weeks at 3 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

What you'll learn

  • Understand and apply intuitive concepts about abstract systems and system theoretical methods

  • Analyze things you may have been studying already for a while through new insights

  • Grapple with social justice issues, climate change, propaganda and disinformation, the origin of the unidirectionality of time

Details to know

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There are 5 modules in this course

Welcome to Pets, Politics, and Pandemics! During this week, Professor Simon Billinge provides an overview of the course. You will also view guidelines to support your learning journey towards thinking systematically to navigate everyday life situations.

What's included

1 video4 readings1 discussion prompt1 plugin

Most of life’s challenges consist of interactions between an individual and different groups, where the group can range from one individual through all of mankind, and indeed non-human groups. This module helps you recognize that essentially all of life’s challenges consist of interactions between an object and different groups of objects that we call a system, where the object can be a person or a thing and the system can range from one object or individual to many objects and groups of individuals throughout all of mankind. During this week's lecture series, we will explore the concept of systems behavior as it relates to such interactions, and its complexities as we apply “force” in an attempt to achieve desired outcomes.

What's included

7 videos2 readings3 quizzes3 discussion prompts

System susceptibility means that the system response is never, in general, completely determined by the applied force. In this sense, systems “have a mind of their own” and it is not possible to control system responses completely. During this week’s lecture series, we will investigate how to work towards getting a desired outcome by changing the applied force, as well as the system’s susceptibility.

What's included

12 videos1 reading2 quizzes3 discussion prompts

We have focused on understanding concepts related to the SRFSuP model. Now, it is time to apply what we have learned to real-world situations. During this week’s lecture, we will learn how to differentiate between education and propaganda, the concept of overwhelming force, and how to apply SRFSuP analysis to politicians.

What's included

9 videos1 reading3 quizzes3 discussion prompts

Let’s apply the SRFSuP model to everyday life challenges and situations! During this week, we will be able to demonstrate our understanding of navigating life with our secret scientific pills using SRFSuP analyses.

What's included

3 readings1 quiz1 peer review1 discussion prompt1 plugin


Simon Billinge
Columbia University
1 Course258 learners

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