Pastoral systems, management of common-pool resources, coupled human and natural systems, complex adaptive systems, regime shifts, resilience, ecology of infectious diseases, herder-farmer conflicts, pastoral development, political ecology.
I study human dimensions of natural resource management and resource use by under-represented populations—often in developing nations—to enhance our understanding of conflicts involving land use, natural resources, and conservation from an interdisciplinary, systematic lens. My research spans subjects such as common pool resource management and policy, decentralization, and land use/land cover change drivers and trends relating to population rise and environmental change.
My research interests stand between natural resource management and ecological economics. The aim of my PhD project responds to the increasing demand for cross-disciplinary agent-based models that examine the disjunction between economic growth and more sustainable use of natural resources.
My research attempts to test the effectiveness of different governance and economic frameworks on managing natural resources sustainably at both regional and national levels. The goal is to simulate how communities and institutions manage the commons in complex socio-ecological systems through several case-studies, e.g. rainforest management in Australia. It is hoped that the models will highlight which combination of variables lead to positive trends in both economic and environmental indicators, which could stimulate more sustainable practices by governments, private sectors and civil society.
Amineh Ghorbani is an assistant professor at the Engineering Systems and Services Department, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. She is also an affiliated member of the “Institutions for Collective Action” at Utrecht University. She obtained her M.Sc. in Computer Science (Artificial intelligence) from University of Tehran (Iran) (2009, honours) and her PhD from Delft University of Technology (2013, cum laude).
During her PhD, Amineh developed a meta-model for agent-based modelling, called MAIA, which describes various concepts and relations in a socio-technical system. This modelling perspective helped her develop a modelling paradigm that she refers to as institutional modelling.
Her current area of research is understanding the emergence and dynamics of institutions (set of rule organizing human society) using modelling. She is interested in how bottom-up collective action emerges and how institutions emergence and change within communities.
evolution of institutions
community energy systems
I discovered at the same time Agent-Based Modeling method and Companion Modelling approach during my master degrees (engeenering and artificial intelligence and decision) internship at CIRAD in 2005 and 2006 where I had the opportunity to participate as a modeller to a ComMod process (Farolfi et al., 2010).
Then, during my PhD in computer Science applied to Modeling and Simulation, I learned the Theory of Modeling and Simulation and the Discrete EVent System specification formalism and proposed a conceptual, formal and operational framework to evaluate simulation models based on the way models are used instead of their ability to reproduce the target system behavior (Bonté et al., 2012). Applied to the surveillance of Epidemics, this work was rather theoritical but very educative and structuring to formulate my further models and research questions about modeling and simulation.
From 2011 to 2013, I worked on viability theory applied to forest management at the Compex System Lab of Irstea (now Inrae) and learned about the interest of agregated models for analytical results (Bonté et al, 2012; Mathias et al, 2015).
Since 2013, I’m working for Inrae at the joint The Joint Research Unit “Water Management, Actors, Territories” (UMR G-EAU) where I’m involved in highly engaging interdisciplinary researches such as:
- The Multi-plateforme International Summer School about Agent Based Modelling and Simulation (MISSABMS)
- The development of the CORMAS (COmmon Pool Resources Multi-Agents Systems) agent-based modeling and simulation Platform (Bommel et al., 2019)
- Impacts of the adaptation to global changes using computerised serious games (Bonté et al., 2019; Bonté et al. , 2021)
- The use of experimentation to study social behaviors (Bonté et al. 2019b)
- The impact of information systems in SES trajectories (Paget et al., 2019a)
- Adaptation and transformations of traditional water management and infrastructures systems (Idda et al., 2017)
- Situational multi-agent approaches for collective irrigation (Richard et al., 2019)
- Combining psyhcological and economical experiments to study relations bewteen common pool resources situations, economical behaviours and psychological attitudes.
My research is about modelling and simulation of complex systems. My work is to use, and participate to the development of, integrative tools at the formal level (based on the Discrete EVent System Specification (DEVS) formalism), at the conceptual level (based on integrative paradigms of different forms such as Multi-Agents Systems paradigm (MAS), SES framework or viability theory), and at the level of the use of modelling and simulation for collective decision making (based on the Companion Modelling approach (ComMod)). Since 2013 and my integration in the G-EAU mixt research units, my object of studies were focused on multi-scale social and ecological systems, applied to water resource management and adaptation of territories to global change and I added experimentation to my research interest, developping methods combining agent-based model and human subjects actions.
To tackle the scientific challenges proposed by landscape dynamics and cooperation processes, I have developed a research methodology based on field work and companion modelling (ComMod) combined with the formalisation of the observed processes and agents based models.
This approach offers the possibility to understand : spatial, social, cultural and / or economic conditions that take place on territories, and to provide prospective scenarios.
These methods have been applied in various contexts: steep slope vineyards landscapes (2011), water resource management cooperation (2015), vegetation cover in dry climate (2017). The established research networks are still active through sustained collaborations and activities.
My technical expertise grew and evolved through investment in several workgroups: MAPS Team (Modelling Applied to Space Phenomena), OSGeo (president of the OSGeo’s French chapter between 2013 and 2016, member of the OSGeo-international chapter since 2015), various initiatives around modelling, exploration and sensibility analysis of spatial patterns behaviours, and more generally in Free Software communities.
I am interested in the socio-environmental conditions for the emergence of cooperation and mutual aid in social systems and mainly with regard to renewable resources. I consider in this context that Commons are a spatial manifestation of mutual aid.
From a technical point of view, I am very interested in the questions of model exploration (HPC), which led me to integrate the OpenMole community and to contribute to discussions about heuristic exploration.
Two themes unite my research: a commitment to methodological creativity and innovation as expressed in my work with computational social sciences, and an interest in the political economy of “globalization,” particularly its implications for the ontological claims of international relations theory.
I have demonstrated how the methods of computational social sciences can model bargaining and social choice problems for which traditional game theory has found only indeterminate and multiple equilibria. My June 2008 article in International Studies Quarterly (“Coordination in Large Numbers,” vol. 52, no. 2) illustrates that, contrary to the expectation of collective action theory, large groups may enjoy informational advantages that allow players with incomplete information to solve difficult three-choice coordination games. I extend this analysis in my 2009 paper at the International Studies Association annual convention, in which I apply ideas from evolutionary game theory to model learning processes among players faced with coordination and commitment problems. Currently I am extending this research to include social network theory as a means of modeling explicitly the patterns of interaction in large-n (i.e. greater than two) player coordination and cooperation games. I argue in my paper at the 2009 American Political Science Association annual convention that computational social science—the synthesis of agent-based modeling, social network analysis and evolutionary game theory—empowers scholars to analyze a broad range of previously indeterminate bargaining problems. I also argue this synthesis gives researchers purchase on two of the central debates in international political economy scholarship. By modeling explicitly processes of preference formation, computational social science moves beyond the rational actor model and endogenizes the processes of learning that constructivists have identified as essential to understanding change in the international system. This focus on the micro foundations of international political economy in turn allows researchers to understand how social structural features emerge and constrain actor choices. Computational social science thus allows IPE to formalize and generalize our understandings of mutual constitution and systemic change, an observation that explains the paradoxical interest of constructivists like Ian Lustick and Matthew Hoffmann in the formal methods of computational social science. Currently I am writing a manuscript that develops these ideas and applies them to several challenges of globalization: developing institutions to manage common pool resources; reforming capital adequacy standards for banks; and understanding cascading failures in global networks.
While computational social science increasingly informs my research, I have also contributed to debates about the epistemological claims of computational social science. My chapter with James N. Rosenau in Complexity in World Politics (ed. by Neil E. Harrison, SUNY Press 2006) argues that agent-based modeling suffers from underdeveloped and hidden epistemological and ontological commitments. On a more light-hearted note, my article in PS: Political Science and Politics (“Clocks, Not Dartboards,” vol. 39, no. 3, July 2006) discusses problems with pseudo-random number generators and illustrates how they can surprise unsuspecting teachers and researchers.