Research Abstract
Matthew J. Hoffmann

Department of Political Science and International Relations
University of Delaware

My broad interest in complexity theory and agent-based modeling arose in response to a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional tools of international relations and political science--especially in how my discipline deals with change and evolution.  Thus, in graduate school I embarked on a broad research project (one on which I am still working) that explores ways in which the insights and tools of complexity theory can improve upon and complement examinations of world politics.

This broad research interest sparked the specific work of my dissertation--"Going Global: The Complexity of Constructing Global Governance in Environmental Politics."  In it, I applied the insights of complex adaptive systems research to the evolution of international negotiations surrounding the ozone depletion and climate change issues.  I utilized complexity theory to construct an analytic framework useful for structuring case studies in addition to two agent-based models.  One of the agent-based models explored the emergence of norms and the other was a more detailed model that examined bargaining between 'Northern' and 'Southern' agents over environmental issues.

In my more recent work, I have concentrated on the model of norm emergence and evolution.  I've improved and extended this model in an attempt to address some fundamental questions about norms that have puzzled both economic and sociological approaches--namely, how do specific norms arise and how do norms change over time.

The other aspect of my modeling work arises from my association with the Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change (CIPEC).  I began working there in fall of 1998 as a visiting scholar.  I worked on developing our prototype model and with the team that put together the National Science Foundation grant proposal that was eventually funded under the ``Biocomplexity in the Environment'' initiative:``Biocomplexity in Linked Bioecological-Human Systems: Agent-Based Models of Land-Use Decisions and Emergent Land Use Patterns in Forested Regions of the American Midwest and the Brazilian Amazon.'' (A participants list is available at In Spring of 2000 I continued work on the project as a post doctoral research fellow and since January of 2001, I have been a participating scientist on the project.  The first paper to detail the prototype model and its results is: Matthew Hoffmann, Hugh Kelley, Tom Evans "Simulating Land Cover Change in South-Central Indiana: An Agent-Based Model of Deforestation and Afforestion."  It is currently being considered as a chapter for a volume being edited by Marco Janssen.

For more information on this project see Dawn Parker's research abstract.