Stewardship of global collective behavior | Bak-Coleman et al (2021)

Stewardship of global collective behavior

Stewardship of global collective behavior | PNAS

Stewardship of global collective behavior

 View ORCID ProfileJoseph B. Bak-Coleman,  View ORCID ProfileMark Alfano,  View ORCID ProfileWolfram Barfuss,  View ORCID ProfileCarl T. Bergstrom, Miguel A. Centeno,  View ORCID ProfileIain D. Couzin, Jonathan F. Donges,  View ORCID ProfileMirta Galesic, Andrew S. Gersick, Jennifer Jacquet,  View ORCID ProfileAlbert B. Kao, Rachel E. Moran,  View ORCID ProfilePawel Romanczuk,  View ORCID ProfileDaniel I. Rubenstein, Kaia J. Tombak, Jay J. Van Bavel, and  View ORCID ProfileElke U. Weber

 See all authors and affiliationsPNAS July 6, 2021 118 (27) e2025764118;

  1. Edited by Bonnie J. McCay, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, and approved May 17, 2021 (received for review December 14, 2020)


Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a “crisis discipline” just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.