• Offered by School of Regulation and Global Governance
  • ANU College ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
  • Course subject RegNet
  • Areas of interest Interdisciplinary Studies - Sustainability, International Relations, Law, Policy Studies, Politics
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person

We live in a complex and uncertain world. In the 21st century, humanity faces challenges stemming from climate change, pandemics, rising inequality, and great power rivalry, which cannot be understood or managed from the perspective of a single discipline. Domains that were previously kept relatively separate (such as economics, security, health and the environment) are colliding. Governance regimes are multiplying, fragmenting, and overlapping in a bid to grapple with these challenges. This course considers approaches to governance in the face of complexity and uncertainty. It covers issues such as: what theories and tools can we use to better understand complex problems and systems dynamics? What frameworks can we develop to better understand and manage risks, opportunities and resilience across domains? How does incremental and transformative change happen in complex systems and what leverage points exist for interventions? The course uses contemporary examples, including COVID-19, the pushback against globalisation, and US-China tech/trade competition.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of concepts related to complex systems
  2. Critically analyse contemporary national and international challenges relating to governing in a complex and uncertain world
  3. Evaluate different governance approaches for responding to these issues and apply them with respect to a variety of domains
  4. Critically analyse different change strategies for intervening in complex and uncertain domains
  5. Conduct independent research on governance challenges and approaches to a complex problem within a particular domain

Indicative Assessment

  1. In class participation and electronic submission of two questions for each session a day prior to class (10) [LO 1,2]
  2. Leading one in-class discussion including a 1500 word precis on relevant reading(s) (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Research and writing plan and outline for major essay - 1000 words (20) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  4. Research essay (maximum 3000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


This course requires 30 contact hours and 130 hours workload in total.

Inherent Requirements

Not applicable

Requisite and Incompatibility

This course cannot be undertaken by students who have completed REGN8056 Complexity, Catastrophe and Resilience

Prescribed Texts


Preliminary Reading

Snowden, D. J., & Boone, M. E. (2017). A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making. Harvard Business Review

Welch IV, J. (2018). The Impact of Newell's "A Theory of Interdisciplinary Studies": Reflection and Analysis. Issues in interdisciplinary studies, 36(2), 193-211. 

Sterman, J. D. (2006). Learning from Evidence in a Complex World. American journal of public health, 96(3), 505-514. 

Roberts, A., & Lamp, N. (2021). Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why It Matters, Ch 1 & Ch 15. 

Goldin, I., & Mariathasan, M. (2014). The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do about It, Ch 1. 

Buchanan, M. (2002). Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen, Ch 1.

Slaughter, A. M. (2017). The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World, Ch 4.

Braithwaite, J. (2018). Cascades of Violence, Ch 1. 

Tetlock, P. E., & Gardner, D. (2016). Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, Ch 5, 105-127.

Syed, M. (2019). Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking (John Murray), Ch 1 & 2.

Gai, P., Haldane, A., & Kapadia, S. (2011). Complexity, Concentration and Contagion. Journal of Monetary Economics, 58(5), 453-470.

Farrell, H., & Newman, A. L. (2019). Weaponized interdependence: How global economic networks shape state coercion. International Security, 44(1), 42-79. 

Manyena, B., Machingura, F., & O'Keefe, P. (2019). Disaster Resilience Integrated Framework for Transformation (DRIFT): A new approach to theorising and operationalising resilience. World Development, 123, 104587. 

Green, D. (2016). How change happens, 7-27. 

Meadows, D. H. (1999). Leverage points: Places to intervene in a system. http://www.donellameadows.org/wp-content/userfiles/Leverage_Points.pdf

Roberts, A., & St John, T. (2022). Complex Designers and Emergent Design: Reforming the Investment Treaty System. American Journal of International Law, 96


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4080
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6000
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

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