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Complex Systems Thinking in Aging Research: Fundamentals and Methods


East Baltimore
Summer Inst. term
Mental Health
1 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Mon 06/10/2019 - Mon 06/10/2019
Class Times:
  • Monday,  8:30am - 4:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor s:
Atif Adam
Frequency Schedule:
One Year Only

Basic computer skills (no programming)


1. Did you know that approximately 80% of older adults suffer from at least one chronic condition (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, heart disease)?

2. Environmental, social, economic and structural factors play a big a role in not only impacting health and well-being of older adults but also how programs and policies are implemented.

3. How do we incorporate these complex networks of individual and group-level factors in understanding health-related behaviors, healthcare utilization, health disparities, and responses to public health interventions amongst older adults?

Trains students on the fundamentals of systems thinking.

Considers key aging-related health outcomes from a systems science lens. Examines basic systems models (dynamic models, agent-based models, social network models). Examines application of systems thinking on evaluating health programs and polices.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Apply systems thinking to tackling key mental health and aging issues (dementia, cognitive aging, and physical frailty)
  2. Explain the conceptual differences between key systems methods (systems dynamic models, agent-based models, social network models)
  3. Accurately describe the set of key systems concepts and what is distinctive about systems thinking as opposed to other forms of thinking
  4. Assess strengths and weaknesses of aging interventions and polices using a systems approach
Methods of Assessment:

Class participation: 25%; In-class systems model critique: 25%; Post-class Final paper: 50%

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Special Comments:

"Students are expected to bring a laptop computer with working WIFI/Internet access. "Students are expected to bring a laptop computer with working WIFI/Internet access. Students are required to complete pre- and post-course assignments. The final paper will be due on June 17, 2019.