Conference Programme

Decision-Making Under Uncertainty:
How Can Academics Help Real-World Decision-Making?

CRUISSE Network Conference 21-22 September 2017
UCL Darwin Lecture Theatre (B40), Gower Street, London WC1E 6XA

The CRUISSE Network (Challenging Radical Uncertainty in Science, Society and the Environment) aims to help decision-makers in industry, government and civil society get together with academics from a wide range of disciplines in mathematical, physical, psychological, social and other sciences to provide better understanding and support to practitioners when they have to make difficult decisions stemming from uncertainty.

The CRUISSE approach starts from understanding the nature of the actual questions decision-makers confront.  So, we start by trying to help practitioners to identify which aspects of real-world challenges they face (a) fall into traditional statistical/decision theoretic methods where it is useful to estimate probabilities (Box 1); or (b) require a broader-approach because mature probabilities are not available (Box 2); or (c) are dominated by what we call radical uncertainty and so require thoughtful case-by-case reflection (Box 3).

The second step in our approach is to explore the way problems are being set up, framed and decided upon in the light of the type of uncertainties identified.  In this respect, we think we can work with each other to develop useful guidelines for resilient real-world decision-making, including steps towards a guide to good practice.

Decision-makers from industry, government and civil society are invited to this FIRST CRUISSE Conference, to get together with academics from any discipline that have ideas about how to contribute.  Papers and talks on any issue relevant to radical uncertainty in the real world are welcome – please submit abstracts by 1 September (see Call for Papers).

We invite decision-makers to talk about their problems and to discuss the kind of uncertainty and the support they have (or would like to have) for addressing it that concerns them.

We invite academics to talk about any recent work with decision-makers, presenting some of the approaches being discussed in the network and summing up ideas that evolve as to the way ahead.


Thursday 21 September

09:00-09:30  Registration

09:30  Welcome

09:40-13:00 What decisions have to be made in practice?
A working session with decision-makers led by Dr Erica L Thompson (LSE)

This challenge-led session will consider a few selected examples of real-world decision making that illustrate the challenges and issues that the CRUISSE Network hope to address.  This will “set the scene,” providing some context and reference points for the discussions to follow.

11:00-11:30  Coffee break

13:00-14:00  Networking Lunch

14:00-16:00  Is Box 3 Empty? Do academics disagree on how decision-making is best supported?
Plenary discussion led by Professor Leonard Smith (LSE)

Leonard Smith will lead a discussion on differing views from academics as to how support for real world challenges should be approached. What types of information can be helpfully supplied to meet the types of challenges discussed in the morning? Can everything be reduced to a decision relevant probability? Or does “Box 3” (see conference description) have content, that is, are there some questions for which no probabilities can be provided?  How then can academic insights contribute to decision making?

16:00  Call for Pilot Projects: introduction and aims

16:30  End of Day One discussions

18:00-20:00  Conference Reception and Dinner (details to follow)

Friday 22 September

09:00-13:00  Ways of supporting the practice and activity of real-life decision-making
Chaired by Dr David Good (University of Cambridge)

After introducing some of the issues faced by decision-makers in industry, government and civil society, Dr David Good will chair wide discussions on this theme with contributions from Mark Fenton-O’Creevy (Open University Business School), Peter Challenor (University of Exeter, M2D Network), David Tuckett (UCL), Paul Cairney (University of Stirling) and others.

11:00  Coffee Break

13:00-14:00  Networking Lunch

14:00-16:00 Three parallel paper session panels
(Darwin Building: Rooms B05, B15 and B40)

Contributed talks will be presented on the following broad themes:

  • Do decision-makers need a concept of radical uncertainty?
  • If so, how should decision-makers cope with radical uncertainty?
  • Or, how do decision-makers make decisions under radical uncertainty?

To contribute to this session, please respond to the Call for Papers before 1 September.

16:00-17:00  Concluding Discussion; Ways Forward
Chaired by David Tuckett and Leonard Smith

17:00  Conference closes