The Complex Systems adresses issues that are at the heart of current science and society debates, such as networks of influence on Twitter, the functioning of Google algorithms, the advent of smart cities and connected objects, the sustainability of ecosystems, biotechnology…

At ISC-PIF, we believe it is essential for researchers, public authorities and citizens to share their views and knowledge on these topics. This is why we are carrying out several initiatives which aim at initiating a constructive dialogue between science and society.


A place dedicated to scientific culture

TOTEM is a Ville de Paris venue dedicated to scientific culture in the broadest sense, at the intersection between academic, civic and artistic spheres.

The building was designed by the architect Christian de Portzamparc at 11 place Nationale, recognizable by its two stacked cubes, one welcoming artists, the other housing the Institut des Systèmes Complexes de Paris Île-de-France (ISC-PIF).

In November 2017, the ISC-PIF, in collaboration with the City of Paris and the Musaïques association, inaugurated a new space on the ground floor of the Totem to enable these two universes to meet.

This 700m2 venue is composed of different spaces dedicated to events, an interactive music room run by the Musaïque association and the ISC-PIF’s collaborative workspace, the “Shakerspace”.

Public Decisions and Citizen Engagement

in the Era of Complexity


Human interventions in complex systems very often produce counterproductive effects; they are highly dependent on the way in which the actors model and represent these complex systems. The complex systems approach therefore have an important role to play in all decision-making contexts, whether in the public or private sphere.

The research community thus faces a new challenge, since it is a matter of finding amongst the possible actions those whose consequences are the most desirable, or viable over a certain period of time. This raises a number of questions related to the control acting on global interactions, as well as distributed control acting on local actions: can self-organization be organized? Can emergence be planned? Also concerned by these approaches is the understanding of disturbances and pathologies of complex systems (immune diseases, destruction of social systems, etc.) as well as the processes ensuring their robustness and resilience.


For several years, ISC-PIF has been developing digital applications and platforms that involve the public in scientific, citizen and political research projects.

New technologies, and smartphones in particular, are very powerful vectors of citizen participation in science, through data collection or distributed analysis processes, described as “collaborative”, “citizen”, “participatory”, “community-based” or “crowdsourcing”.

The development of these interfaces between science and citizens is an opportunity both for the study of complex systems and for the dissemination and societal applications of research in this field:

  • The involvement of citizens in data collection and analysis can produce new knowledge on complex systems, in particular on the systems in which we live (cities, eco-systems, etc.).
  • Research on complex systems, because it theorizes self-organization and distributed processes, can bring much from a conceptual and practical point of view for the development of new forms of decentralized social and economic organization.

Popularizing Complexity

A challenge for researchers and science communicators

Complex systems research is an interdisciplinary approach which issues are at the heart of scientific and social debates: social networks, data protection, smart cities and connected objects, sustainability of ecosystems, etc. However, despite the interest of the media, the public and local authorities in these issues, there are few initiatives to explain and disseminate complex systems to the general public.

With its scientific outreach incubator “IncubCST”, the CNRS offers researchers and professionals in the field of scientific culture the following challenge: to popularise complexity, and thus give everyone the keys to better understanding and grasping the complexity of the systems that surround us.

For one year, the ISC-PIF accompanied researchers and facilitators alongside the CNRS and the AMCSTI to design outreach projects about complex systems.