We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. Do You agree?

Read more

I.3.2. Systemic Risk Research Project

IDUB Programme Objective(s)

  • I.3 Support for the creation of research programmes and teams that will become future centres of excellence, including plans for their internationalisation

Name of POB/activity group


The aim of the Systemic Risk Assessment Centre is to conduct research on threats to the systems which are essential to the functioning of societies and populations, and to search for methods and strategies to minimize these threats. To achieve this, a lasting platform for cooperation between leading researchers in the social sciences, exact sciences, and natural sciences will be created.

The essence of the Centre’s activities will be to combine the perspective and reflection offered by representatives of the social sciences and humanities with a wealth of empirical data (including precise mathematical models and computer simulations), which are the domain of researchers in the exact sciences. This stems from the conviction that in order to understand a crisis of civilization, and to find ways out of it, it is necessary to combine the precision of models offered by the exact sciences with a deep understanding of mankind, societies and culture inherent in social sciences and humanities. The study of complex systems offers tools to understand the multi-faceted dynamics of a crisis, and to integrate the perspectives of other branches of science. Many risks are global in nature, and it is necessary to combine the results of research related to local conditions with similar research carried out in other centres in the world – both in developed and developing countries. Therefore, our Centre will be part of an (emerging) international research network. It is necessary to teach others reliable, analytical and scientific approaches, theoretical knowledge, and new methods; we intend to create a suitable didactic structure for this purpose, in addition to carrying out research.


The current crisis in our civilisation threatens the function of many systems which the further development of humanity depends upon: the problems concern the climate and environment, the economy, financial markets, social and global cohesion, individual safety, culture, and cultural heritage.

Many manifestations of the crisis are interdependent and joined in various connections. For example, global warming is manifested by drought in some regions of the world, and by floods in others. Climate change and the crisis in biodiversity affect the efficiency of food production; hunger can result in mass migration, which in turn leads to social conflicts. Overpopulation, instability in economic systems, and volatility in financial markets all cause fear, leading to extreme viewpoints. These and many other factors can undermine the cohesion of societies and threaten the integrity of Europe, and the well-being and security of entire nations. In addition, we are witnessing unprecedented developments in communication techniques and their impact on public opinion.

The crisis of civilisation is therefore multi-faceted by nature and concerns a wide spectrum of interconnected systems, interlocking at different levels and involving common elements and components. We propose joint, synergetic research, aimed at  learning about possible and desirable changes in the organisation of social structures, which could limit the negative effects of the climate and environmental crisis and, on the other hand, maintain social cohesion. In order to carry out this research, it is necessary to involve scientists from different fields which will help to better understand crisis dynamics, the links between its various aspects, and then to identify warning signals and to find effective ways out. There is also a need to understand how to put general principles into practice, and to develop methods for finding practical solutions, guiding specific actions, and educating professionals.


The “scientific quality” of the team members is key to creating modern, interdisciplinary, and systematic research methods. Only then can we guarantee the scientific excellence of our actions. The effect of our work will be to integrate Polish sciences and create a strong interdisciplinary environment. As the activity grows within the proposed scope of research, the international position of Polish sciences will also be strengthened through connections in the world sciences, and in particular through cooperation with other European universities. The project will also result in a better understanding of threats and ways to avoid and minimize their effects. The social importance of the issues being undertaken means the research results will translate into tangible benefits for society and business, also in terms of innovation.


The Centre’s “trademark” approach will be the interdisciplinary use of research methods from the entire spectrum of expert knowledge which is represented by its team members. We will combine classical methods of social sciences (e.g., survey research) with the results of biomedical research (e.g., data on the health status of the studied populations), historical research (including archaeology) with machine learning methods, and mathematical modelling. The scope of methods applied will be subordinate to the overarching goal of the Centre: early identification of systemic threats, understanding the mechanisms of change taking place, and formulating recommendations aimed at eliminating their effects.


The Centre will conduct scientific, didactic and promotional activities. The activities will be conducted in national and international cooperation.

  1. Scientific and advisory activities – The main task of the Centre will be to conduct scientific and research activities in the area of systems risk. The members of the Centre will publish the results of their research in prestigious domestic and foreign scientific journals, but also formulate diagnoses and recommendations for policymaking entities. Members of the Centre will apply for domestic and foreign scientific grants for the activities of the Centre.
  2. Didactics – the Centre will provide teaching at the graduate and postgraduate levels. Initially, these will be lectures; in the long run, there will be specialized studies and interdepartmental macro-majors, which result in a diploma or certificate for completing the specialisation.
  3. Domestic and international cooperation – the Centre will actively cooperate with domestic and foreign scientific centres, to build an international network.
  4. Popularising activities and supporting social influence – the Centre will support activities increasing public awareness of systems, activities, and behaviours that minimise systemic risk. The Centre will also cooperate with educational institutions and teachers who are supporting initiatives aimed at minimizing systemic risks.


The main task of the project is to create a Centre for Systemic Risk Research, initiate its scientific activity and undertake cooperation with foreign partners.

The following system classes are within the area of interest of the Centre:

  1. Social systems – Prof. Andrzej Nowak
  2. The environment and the social consequences of its changes – Prof. Szymon Malinowski and Dr hab. Fabian Welc
  3. Health and epidemic threats – Prof. Andrzej Wróbel, Prof. Marek Konarzewski, Prof. Marek Kuś, and Prof. Marek Trippenbach
  4. Technical systems and their social consequences – Dr Sebastian Szymański
  5. Economic and financial systems – Dr hab. Karolina Safarzyńska

Within these broadly defined systems, narrower areas will be identified for projects implemented by the Centre. The list of topics is not closed; new topics may be added. Experts from the University of Warsaw as well as specialists from other institutions will be invited to participate in the tasks.

The initial topics the Centre wishes to address include:

  • Formal models of risk and the function degradation dynamics of complex systems.
  • Threats to cohesion in society.
  • Assessment of systemic risk associated with narratives which function in the media.
  • Climate – man – society – migration.
  • Health threats as a systemic risk (including sudden events such as the incidence of a pandemic, as well as long-term threats, such as the increasing occurrence of diseases of civilisation).
  • Systemic risks and ethics (emergence and responsibility, systemic risks and equity).
  • Risks in economic and financial systems.

In organisational terms, the Centre for System Risk Assessment will operate within the framework of the Robert Zajoniec Institute for Social Studies at the University of Warsaw, but it remains open; in the spirit of inclusiveness, we plan to invite other units of the University to cooperate. Researchers from outside the University may also become members of the Centre.

Implementing body

  • Faculty of Artes Liberales

Entities involved in implementation

  • Faculty of Physics
  • Faculty of Artes Liberales
  • Institute of Polish Culture
  • Faculty of Economic Sciences
  • Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology
  • Faculty of Psychology
  • Institute of Archaeology UKSW
  • The Centre of Migration Research
  • The Medical University of Warsaw (WUM)