Exploring futures with quanitative models

Document Type

Book Chapter


Australian Academy of Science


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Business




Fulton, E., Finnigan, P., Bradbury, R., Pearman, G., Sewell, R., Steffen, W., Syme, G. (2012).Exploring futures with quanitative models. In M. R. Raupach, A. J. McMichael, J. J. Finnigan, L. Manderson & B. H. Walker (Eds.). Negotiating our future : Living scenarios for Australia to 2050 (pp. 1529187). Canberra: Australian Academy of Science.


When a group of scientists discusses models, they can expect some shared understanding of what this term means. When the general public hears the word models, it conjures up a range of images, from fashion icons to miniature trains, but rarely the kind of internally consistent formalised reasoning meant by scientists. In this chapter we show that models and modelling are more familiar and less arcane than people think. All humans use models, consciously or unconsciously, because models are the guidebooks that help us navigate the world we live in. However, as the modern world has become more interconnected and complex, the intuitive models that have served us for millennia are increasingly guidebooks to the past, and of declining value. Here we argue that in a modern world that is so much a product of advances in science, the most reliable guides are models based on scientific principles. We also emphasise the importance of broad participation in the modelling process and discuss ways of achieving this at national scale.

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