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Photos by: Canva, Chris Topping and Marek Szczepanek, Neil Smith, Jean-Jacques Boujot, Pavel Kirillov, Zeynel Cebeci, Ermell and Birding in Spain, Wikimedia Commons



Management of complex social-ecological systems is of paramount importance and societal relevance. There is an increasing understanding that these systems are complex with multiple interconnected feedbacks and drivers, and that decision-making occurs within an environment of changing context.

The Social-Ecological Systems Simulation Centre will generate scientific outputs, which can feed directly to policy development, implementation and administrative structures, and has direct influence to assist in solving key issues of societal concern. 


The Social-Ecological Systems Simulation Centre aims to facilitate systems understanding and decision-making. SESS focuses on the development of simulation as a tool to explore the implications of management decisions on the environmental, societal and economic aspects of managed systems. 


SESS strives to become a center of excellence, leading international scientific advances that focus on theory and practice of simulation of social-ecological systems.  

In SESS we want to understand the complexity of dynamic adaptive systems and their inherent feedbacks, to support the development and application of social-ecological systems simulation to management of complex social-ecological systems in the real world. 

Our overall aim is to develop theoretical and methodological approaches to social-ecological system simulation in support of goal-oriented systems management, by establishing an international reputation for scientific and technological excellence in applied social ecological simulation modelling.


We work with complex software simulations, data sets from GIS, agricultural/farming systems and weather, and have life cycle models for diverse species of insects, bird and mammals, as well as people.

We offer

The SESS approach is ideally suited to address questions of integrating food, energy generation and natural resources in circular sustainable economies. Such as:

  • How best to implement regulatory risk assessment for pesticides and other stressors to ensure sustainable food production?
  • How best to enhance ecosystem services (pollination, pest control etc.)?
  • How to slow and reverse biodiversity declines?
  • How to use circular management of farming inputs and outputs in order to ensure sustainable production?

Here is an introduction to SESS concepts and complex systems, an introduction and ALMaSS dynamic landscapes, and more materials are available on the Courses and Workshops page.


SESS news

In 2020, Aarhus University established the Social-Ecological Systems Simulations Centre (SESS), part of Aarhus University and based at the Department of Ecoscience, Aarhus C.

SESS has collaborations with European and national institutions (e.g. EFSA & Miljø-og Fødevareministeriet), as well as scientific establishments, agroindustry organisations and NGOs, throughout Europe. 

We collaborate with researchers from Europe through development of the ALMaSS model system.

Contact SESS

Christopher John Topping

Full Professor
Leader of the SESS centre

SESS related publications

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