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The Social Simulation research group is part of a collaborative international network of scholars who utilize innovative computer modeling and social simulation techniques to produce policy-relevant scientific research on issues such as cultural conflict, migration, populism, and climate change. For example, we are currently working on models that could help improve the efforts of NGOs in facilitating humanitarian responses to refugee crises.

The Modeling Religion in Norway (MODRN) Project

The MODRN project, funded by The Research Council of Norway, was a three-year project that ran from 1 July 2016 through 30 June 2019. Our partners were the Center for Mind and Culture in Boston and the Virginia Modeling, Simulation and Analysis Center (VMASC) in Suffolk, Virginia. We developed several computational models and social simulations of the dynamics that shape policy-relevant issues related to the role of religion and secularization in contemporary societies (see sample publications below). 

The core team members were:

The MODRN project applied advanced strategies in computer simulation to the task of understanding the interrelation between micro- and macro-levels of social change. We were able to facilitate more precise analysis of the complex social systems that shape religious conflict and secularization. 

Planned Activities: "Climate and Conflict" Event

On Monday 30 September 2019, the Social Simulation research group will sponsor a public event at the University of Agder on "Climate Change and Cultural Conflict."

The event is co-sponsored by Monica Toft at the Center for Strategic Studies at Tufts University and Antje Danielson at the MIT Energy Initiative.  

Plans are underway, and details will appear here soon. 


Diallo, Saikou, Wesley J. Wildman, F. LeRon Shults and Andreas Tolk, eds., Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights, and Applications. New York: Springer, in press.

Shults, F. LeRon, “Computer modeling in philosophy of religion,” Open Philosophy, in press. 

Shults, F. LeRon, “Computing consilience: How modeling and simulation can contribute to worldview studies,” in Larsson Goran and Jonas Svennson, eds., An Introduction to the Building Block Approach to Religion – Critical Applications and Future Prospects, London: Equinox, in press. 

Lane, Justin E., F. LeRon Shults and Robert N. McCauley, “Modeling and simulation as a pedagogical and heuristic tool for developing theories in cognitive science: An example from ritual competence theory,” in Diallo, Wildman, Shults & Tolk, eds, Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights and Applications, New York: Springer, in press. 

Diallo, Saikou, Wesley J. Wildman, F. LeRon Shults and Andreas Tolk, “Human simulation: A transdisciplinary approach to studying societal problems,” in Diallo, Wildman, Shults & Tolk, eds, Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights and Applications, New York: Springer, in press. 

Puga-Gonzalez, Ivan, David Voas, Wesley J. Wildman, Saikou Diallo and F. LeRon Shults, “Minority integration in a Western city: An agent-based modelling approach,” in Diallo, Wildman, Shults & Tolk, eds, Human Simulation: Perspectives, Insights and Applications, New York: Springer, in press. 

Wildman, Wesley J, Saikou Diallo and F. LeRon Shults, “Advanced computational approaches,” chapter in Engler, Steven and Michael Stausber, eds., The Scientific Study of Religion. London: Routledge, in press. 

Poudel, Amrit, Pauline Vos and F. LeRon Shults, “Students of development studies learning about modelling and simulations as a research approach in their discipline,” Proceedings of the 11th Congress of the European Society for Research on Mathematics Education, in press. 

Gore, Ross, Philip Wozny, Frank P. Dignum, F. LeRon Shults, Christian Boshuijzen – van Burken and Lamber Royakkers, “ A value sensitive agent-based simulation of the refugee crisis in the Netherlands,” Proceedings of the 2019 Spring Simulation Conference, Tucson, AZ: Society for Modeling & Simulation International (2019) 1-12. 

Shults, F. LeRon, “Modeling metaphysics: The rise of simulation and the reversal of Platonism,” Proceedings of the 2019 Spring Simulation Conference, Tucson, AZ: Society for Modeling & Simulation International (2019) 1-12. 

Lemos, Carlos, Ross Gore, Ivan Puga-Gonzalez and F. LeRon Shults, “Dimensionality and factorial invariance of religiosity among Christians and the religiously unaffiliated: A cross-cultural analysis based on the International Social Survey Programm.” PLoS ONE (May 2019): 1-36.

Lemos, Carlos, Ross Gore, Laurence-Lessard Phillips and F. LeRon Shults, “A network agent-based model of ethnocentrism and intergroup cooperation,” Quantity & Quality (March 2019): 1-27. 

Shults, F. LeRon and Wesley J. Wildman, “Ethics, computer simulation, and the future of humanity.” Chapter in Diallo, Wildman, Shults & Tolk, eds, Human Simulation, Springer, in press.

Teehan, John, and F. LeRon Shults, “An agent-based model of religion and empathy,” chapter in Human Simulation, Diallo, S., Wildman, W.J., Shults, L., and Tolk, A., eds. Cham: Springer, in press.

Lane, Justin E. and F. LeRon Shults, “Death threats and religion: A computer simulation,” 123-142 in Slone, Jason and William W. McCorkle, Jr, The Cognitive Science of Religion: A Methodological Introduction to Key Empirical Studies. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

Shults, F. LeRon, Ross Gore, Wesley J. Wildman, Christopher Lynch, Justin E. Lane and Monica Toft, "A generative model of the mutual escalation of anxiety between religious groups," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 21 (2018): 1-24.

Lane, Justin, F. LeRon Shults, and Wesley J. Wildman. “A potential explanation for self-radicalisation.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 41, (2018). E207. doi:10.1017/S0140525X18001760. 

Shults, F. LeRon. “Strategies for promoting safe sects: Response to Brandon Daniel-Hughes and Jeffrey B. Speaks.” American Journal of Theology and Philosophy 39, no. 3 (2018): 80-93.

Stenvik, Bår in conversation with F. LeRon Shults. “Et simulert stykke Norge.» Forskerforum: Tidsskrift for Forskerforbundet, 10 (2018): 28-31.

Shults, F. LeRon, “Simulating Supernatural Seeking,” Religion, Brain & Behavior, 30 May 2018. https://doi.org/10.1080/2153599X.2018.1453530.

Lane, Justin E. and F. LeRon Shults, "Cognition, Culture and Social Simulation." Journal of Cognition and Culture 18 (2018): 451-461.

Tolk, Andreas, Wesley J. Wildman, Saikou Diallo, and F. LeRon Shults, "Human Simulation as Lingua Franca for relating the Humanities and the Social Sciences," Journal of Cognition and Culture 18 (2018): 462-482. 

Shults, F. LeRon, Wesley J. Wildman, Justin Lane, Christopher Lynch & Saikou Diallo, “Multiple Axialities: A computational model of the Axial Age.”  Journal of Cognition and Culture, 18 (2018): 537-564.

Wildman, Wesley J. and F. LeRon Shults, “Emergence: What does it mean and how is it relevant to computer engineering?” 21-34 in Mittal Saurab, Saikou Diallo & Andreas Tolk, eds. Emergence and Computer Engineering. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2018.

Shults, F. LeRon, Wesley J. Wildman and Virginia Dignum, “Ethics in Computer Modeling and Simulation,” Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference, (2018) 1-12. 

Puga-Gonzalez, Ivan, F. LeRon Shults, Wesley J. Wildman & Saikou Diallo, "Incredulous Scandinavians: An Agent-Based Model of the Spread of Secularism," Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference, (2018) 1 (poster). 

Poudel, Amrit, Pauline Vos and F. LeRon Shults, “Religious Students and Computer Simulation,” Proceedings of the Principles of Mathematics Education Conference. (2018) 1-4. 

Gore, Ross, Carlos Lemos, F. LeRon Shults & Wesley J. Wildman, "Forecasting changes in religiosity and existential security with an agent-based model," Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 8/1 (2018): 1-26.

Shults, F. LeRon, Ross Gore, Carlos Lemos & Wesley J. Wildman, "Why do the godless prosper? Modeling the cognitive and coalitional mechanisms that promote atheism." Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 20/3 (2018): 218-228. 

Shults, F. LeRon, "Can we predict and prevent religious radicalisation?" 45-71 in Gwyneth Øverland, ed., Violent Extremism in the 21st century: International Perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2018. 

Shults, F. LeRon, Justin Lane, Wesley J. Wildman, Saikou Diallo, Christopher Lynch, and Ross Gore. "Modeling terror management theory: Computer simulations of the impact of mortality salience on religiosity," Religion, Brain & Behavior, 8/1 (2018): 77-100. 

Shults, F. LeRon & Wesley J. Wildman, "Simulating religious entanglement and social investment in the Neolithic," pp. 33-63  in Ian Hodder, ed., Religion, History and Place in the Origin of Settled Life. Denver: University of Colorado Press, 2018. 

Shults, F. LeRon, Wesley J. Wildman, Saikou Diallo, Ivan Puga-Gonzalez & David Voas, "The Artificial Society Analytics Platform," Proceedings of the European Social Simulation Association (2018): 1-12.

Shults, F. LeRon & Ross Gore, "Modeling Radicalization and Violent Extremism." Proceedings of the European Social Simulation Association (2018): 1-6.

Vos, Pauline, Markos Dallas, Amrit B. Poudel & F. LeRon Shults, "Using Social Simulations in Interdisciplinary Primary Education - An Expert Appraisal. Proceedings of the European Social Simulation Association (2018): 1-6.

Poudel, Amrit B., Pauline Vos & F. LeRon Shults, "Students of Religion Studying Conflict through Simulation and Modeling - An Exploration." Proceedings of the European Social Simulation Association (2018): 1-5.

Xanthoupoulou, Themis-Dimitra, Andreas Prinz, F. LeRon Shults & Ivan Puga-Gonzalez, "An Agent-Based Model of Bullying Dynamics," Proceedings of the European Social Simulation Association (2018): 1 (poster). 

Wildman, Wesley J., Paul Fishwick & F. LeRon Shults "Teaching at the intersection of simulation and the humanities," 1-12 in W. K. V. Chan, A. D'Ambrogio, G. Zacharewicz, N. Mustafee, G. Wainer, and E. Page, eds. Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference. (2017): 1-12.

Members in the group

Associate members

Co-principal investigator
Wesley J. Wildman (IBCSR)

Co-principal investigator
Ross Gore (VMASC)

Andrew Atkinson (University of Bialystok, Poland)

Thomas Coleman (University of Bialystok, Poland)