Save the date: Gert Jan Hofstede’s inaugural speech 17 Jan 2019


Gert Jan Hofstede is pleased to invite anyone interested to his inaugural address. He will deliver it in the Aula (Auditorium) of Wageningen University on 17 January 2019 at 4PM. This talk marks his appointment as a personal professor of ‘Artificial Sociality’ at the Information Technology group, Social Sciences, Wageningen University. The lecture will be broadcast on WUR TV. It will be followed by a reception until around 6:30 PM, to which you are also invited.

Artificial Sociality: modelling the social mind

The title is ‘Artificial Sociality: modelling the social mind’. Gert Jan will explain, and show through agent-based models, that much of what happens in our lives is unplanned. Instead it emerges from the combination of our tendencies, previous events, and circumstances. Agent-based models that show people’s behaviours across time in socio-ecological or socio-technical systems can help us understand these path-dependent, unplanned dynamics. This is useful for policy making in many areas, such as food and agriculture.

Elephant paths

The picture on the right shows the output of a simple model that literally lets path dependency happen. It depicts a (green) grassy area with buildings in which there are some (grey) paths that people (yellow triangles) created by following in another's footsteps. Their course changes all the time.

Gert Jan's mission

Gert Jan’s specialism is in the social motivations of people. Creating generic models of human social behaviour for re-use in applied agent-based models, is what he proposes to do in the upcoming years. For this he needs to understanding these motivations, both at individual and at collective level. Social psychology and socilogy are contributing disciplines.

Gert Jan collaborates with scientists from many disciplines. Whether in food, agriculture, ecology, or tourism, policy aims at creating sustainable systems that are livable for the people in them. This requires interdisciplinary collaboration. In all systems in which people run around, it could be helpful to build agent-based models in which simplified people run around. We have but one version of the real system. In the models, we can test all kinds of hypotheses and scenarios.


The talk is meant for a general audience. The attendant booklet will provide the detail, and the references, that will be omitted from the lecture.

Fellow researchers are also most welcome. In particular, Gert Jan hopes to build bridges between social scientists, who might be sceptical about the idea of agent-based modelling, and natural or technical scientists, who might be sceptical about trying to understand human behaviour. Progress in applied Life Sciences requires interdisciplinary models.