Getting to grips with uncertainty across multiple scales at the 5th Annual Workshop on Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty

Today’s decision makers face conditions of fast-paced, transformative, and often surprising change. Decisions on issues such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, defense spending or avoiding the collapse of financial systems are all plagued by diverse and complex uncertainties. So how do we respond to this world of increasing uncertainty? Policy makers, practitioners and academics from around the world gathered this week in Oxford for the 5th Annual Workshop on Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty to discuss how to help governments, companies, and international agencies get to grips with these uncertainties.

Organized by the Society for Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty, the workshop commenced on Monday 13th November with a training day, targeted at introducing the concept of deep uncertainty, the mission of the society, as well as some core decision support tools to new and potential future society members. The society aims to bridge the gap between what analysts produce and what decision-makers need. Often, the approach of decision makers is holistic, narrative-based and qualitative. But traditional methods often do not serve these needs well. To address this problem, the society produces and disseminates new approaches that are highly quantitative and rigorous, yet accessible to a wide range of stakeholders, and more aligned with how people intuitively think about uncertainty.

The 2-day workshop, on November 14th and 15th, kicked off officially with a keynote presentation from Claire Craig, Director of Science Policy at the Royal Society. She discussed how Foresight methodologies have informed previous policy-making in the UK and emphasized how decision-makers need powerful narratives across geographical and temporal scales to support effective and implementable decisions.

The theme of this year’s workshop was decision making at multiple scales, and a series of plenary, poster and parallel break-out sessions systematically explored the impact of uncertainty on decisions made at the global and regional scales, the national and city scales, and the local and individual scales, highlighting the interconnected nature of today’s world.

Robert Lempert, president of the Society for Decision Making Under Deep Uncertainty, welcomed participants and said he was thrilled to see how the DMDU community had grown in a few short years, due to, he said, “the increasing availability of powerful new concepts and tools as well as the increasing awareness among decision makers of the importance of recognizing and managing deep uncertainty.” Jan Kwakkel, the Society’s vice president, announced that next year’s workshop will be held in November 2018, most likely in Southern California.

For more information visit or join the conversation on Twitter by following @deepuncertainty or using the hashtag #dmdu2017.


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