Individual/Agent-based modeling is a computational approach to analyze complex systems in many disciplines, including ecology, geography, economics, and systems biology. The aim of agent-based models (ABMs) is to model the essential traits and behaviors of adaptive agents (plants, animals, humans, institutions) and to investigate individual- and system-level properties that emerge as the agents interact with each other and their environment. Individual behavior and system-level patterns are mutually dependent and ABMs are a powerful tool for understanding this relationship.

Course Name

Learning and Gaining from your Model: A Course in Analysis, Application, and Publication of Individual/Agent-Based Models




Block course

Target group

This course is intended primarily for graduate students and researchers who have at least an early version of their model and seek guidance on finishing, analyzing, and doing science with it.


The course will convey skills and experience in the analysis and application of individual- and agent-based modeling in the context of scientific problems. Analysis includes debugging, parameter fitting, sensitivity analysis, and robustness analysis. Model application includes handling uncertainties in data, designing simulation experiments, and statistical analysis of results. Guidance for publishing will be provided by instructors who edit prominent modeling journals. The course will provide a short introduction to model development and implementation, but its focus is on the steps after your first model version is running.

The course will use the NetLogo modeling software plus software for statistical analyses (e.g., R). While users of other software platforms are welcome, intermediate knowledge of NetLogo is required. Material introducing NetLogo and R will be provided before the course.

The instructors are Uta Berger (TUD, Germany), Robert Schlicht (TUD, Germany), Steve Railsback (USA) and Volker Grimm (UFZ, Germany). All of them are ecologists, so most of their example models will be from ecology; but scholars from all disciplines will be welcome. The course will consist of lectures, exercises, and extensive group projects to be presented at the end of the course. 

Didactic aim  / competences

Familiarity with a comprehensive strategy for designing, conducting and analyzing simulation experiments using individual- and agent-based models.

Didactic elements

Lectures on general concepts of simulation studies; literature seminar; small modeling projects to be prepared in advance as course input.


9 days + tutorial driven self-study two weeks in advance


20. - 28. July 2017 (20.07. afternoon arrival, 28.07. morning departure)


9:00 – 13:00 / 14:00 – 18:00 (evening hours for special lectures and exercises)


Naturhotel Lindenhof in Holzhau close to Dresden (Saxony, Germany)

Work load

64 hours presence / 60 self-study

Expected performance

Active collaboration, conducting simulation experiments / analyzing modeling results, reporting results

Number of participants


Application to

via the application form

Application deadline

28. February 2017

Lecturer in charge

Prof. Dr. Uta Berger (Technische Universität Dresden, Germany)

Further Lecturers

Prof. Dr. Volker Grimm (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany)

Prof. Dr. Steve Railsback (Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, USA)

Dr. Robert Schlicht (Technische Universität Dresden, Germany)

Credit points


Additional information:

The fee of the course is 850 Euro. This covers tuition and accommodation in single room, including breakfast and dinner. Lunch is not included, but there is a possibility to get reasonably priced small dishes in the restaurant.


Please register via the application form. We will ask you to provide information about your disciplinary background (fields of your academic degrees) and field of research (current work). Additionally, we will ask you to send us three documents (preferably as PDF):

  • Motivation, providing evidence of the relevance of the course to your scientific career, a short abstract of your on-going (PhD) project, and your expectations from the course
  • Brief CV
  • Letter of support from your academic advisor or other supervisor

Criteria for choosing participants are: scientific ability, proven need of the course for the scientific career, correspondence between research experience and field of training, and adequate participation of female researchers. There are no restrictions on nationality, discipline, age, etc. The final selection of participants will be announced until 24. March 2017.


The course will take place in Holzhau – located in the heart of the Ore Mountains. There will be an optional hiking tour through a beautiful and fascinating landscape. We also recommend a visit to Dresden before or after the course. We will provide support for preparing your travel.

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Martin Werisch
Letzte Änderung: 21.03.2017