Public Programs

An Afternoon with Michael Crichton

In collaboration with The Smithsonian Associates - November 6, 2005

Michael CrichtonIsn’t it interesting how his novels always seemed to pre-date some real-world scientific discovery, technological development or headline event?

Michael Crichton, mega-selling author and creator of the modern techno-thriller, helped millions of readers understand the meaning, usefulness and potential dangers of science and technology at the cutting-edge.

At a special event on Sunday afternoon, November 6, 2005, he talked with us about how emerging scientific discoveries had informed his writing—from The Andromeda Strain to Jurassic Park to television’s ER, and his most recent novel, State of Fear —and what he'd learned from his behind-the-scenes research. He also shared his thoughts about the importance of sound science as the under-girding framework for public policy-making in the 21st century. See the video here:

Strategic Thinking in a Complex World

In collaboration with The Smithsonian Associates - May, 2004

In collaboration with the Resident Associate Program of the Smithsonian Institution, the Center presented Strategic Thinking in a Complex World during the month of May 2004. This groundbreaking one-month course was designed to give participants a working knowledge of complexity science with practical applications to life, work and world events.

Working with both scientific and artistic collaborators, this course incorporated a variety of methods and media including—photography, art, music, dance, and architecture. Guest collaborators included: Andy Ilachinski, PhD, physicist/photographer; Symmes Gardner, director, Center for Art and Visual Culture, University of Maryland Baltimore County; and David Rejeski, director, Foresight and Governance Project, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"This interdisciplinary course will stretch your thinking and aesthetic sensibilities. Through the exploration of complexity, you'll see the world in new ways."

Angelo S. Ioffreda
VP, Internal Communications
Sodexho USA


In collaboration with The Federal Reserve Board - September 26—November 28, 2003

As its first major public program, the Center was successful in bringing a very unique fine arts exhibition, COMPLEXITY, to Washington, DC. In collaboration with the Fine Arts Program of the Federal Reserve Board, this exhibition on complexity science included works by 23 artists, who used a variety of media to explore commonalities among complex systems across disciplines and topics.

It included an early and prescient work by Hans Haacke, Condensation Cube (1963-95), and the work of emerging artist Brian Lytle, who works with chemicals that interact according to their density, creating intricately patterned surfaces. Five video artists were also featured in the exhibition. The exhibition, COMPLEXITY, originated in 2002 at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, SUNY New Paltz, and was curated by Philip Galanter and Ellen K. Levey.


Chaos, Complexity & Public Policy: TV Interview, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (2009)

The Center's executive director, Irene Sanders, was a guest on dialogue, the award-winning radio and TV program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. In this wide-ranging 30 minute interview, she and program host, John Milewski, covered a range of topics from the economy to cyber security to nuclear proliferation, all designed to demonstrate the usefulness of complexity science to strategic thinking, foresight development and national security.

See the interview in the media window below or go directly to the Wilson Center website.

Traffic Jam: NPR Radio Interview (2003)

Traffic got you frustrated? Do you have the feeling that rush hour is really 24/7? Is it possible that chaos theory and complexity science could help traffic engineers and planners in the Baltimore-Washington area find ways to ease your daily commute?

In this radio documentary Irene Sanders, executive director of the Center, provides an explanation about how the new science is helping traffic engineers and policy experts find new approaches to transportation management. Produced by Richard Paul, Soundprint, Media Center Inc. and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Download the MP3 (20MB)

Documents and Reports