The Complex Thinking Academy

The Complex Thinking Academy (CTA) is an outreach and scientific extension and dissemination activities project, within the Building Foundations for Complex Thinking. It aims at promoting a Complexity Paradigm (Morin, 2005) and a pragmatic Complex Thinking Approach (Melo, 2020), raising awareness of the implications, consequences and effects of the adoption of (more or less) complex modes of thinking.


To promote and disseminate knowledge regarding key organising principles of Complexity and (relatively more) Complex Systems as well as to key properties underlying the practice of Complex Thinking.

To promote modes of thinking congruent with the organising principles of Complexity and (relatively more) Complex Systems

To increase the complexity of the thinking practiced in different levels and contexts of organisation of Science and Society

The Complex Thinking Academy iniciates adopt a pragmatic focus exploring what the practice of (more) Complex (forms of) thinking entail and what are its implications.


The Complex Thinking Academy may assume different formats. The most elementary workshops take the form of 3 to 4 hours introductory workshops focused on raising awareness. More in-depth and elaborate programs include several sessions and different types of activities. They may target more specialised or specific contexts with a focus on the development, implementation and evaluation of tools and strategies to support the practice of Complex Thinking in Science, Governance and Policy-Making contexts, Contexts of Interventions with Social Systems, Society at Large and in Everyday Life.

Complex Thinking Academy: Introductory Workshops

The Complex Thinking Academy has, so far, mostly been implemented through the form of introductory Workshops, varying in depth and intensity, from 1 session of 3-4 hours to multiple sessions. Participants start with an imaginary scenario and participate in training sessions to use particular tools to support Complex Thinking. In the multiple sessions version, additional real scenarios may be are introduced, close to the participants' realities and with more in-depth discussions and working sessions focused on the development, implementation and evaluation of tools and strategies to support applied complex Thinking. The workshops may be adapted and customised for particular contexts and groups of participants.

Until the moment, CTA workshops have been conducted and adapted for the general population, groups of academics, researchers and undergraduate and graduate students as well as for schools and secondary grade students. In 2021 the workshops they were adapted to a virtual virtual format. The CTA have been facilitated in English and Portuguese languages.

In the future we plan to develop more extensive programs with sets of workshops targeting policy-makers, scientists and practitioners in diverse settings as well as formal and informal education contexts, including children and youth of different ages.

Training materials CTA

Analogic training materials CTA

Training materials CTA

CTA At York Festival of Ideas 2018- Instructors: Ana and Leo

Welcoming the new recruits of the CTA!

Virtual Complex Thinking Academy spaces (using Miro)

Virtual thinking lab: Observatron and Relatoscope

The CTA workshops basic role-playing scenario: Introduction to ComplexCity

"The year is 2118. You have been transported to the Headquarters of the Complex Thinking Academy, located in a space station located between Earth and ComplexCity.

ComplexCity is a colony in space conceived in 2068 to deliver a dream: to build and shape a place where Humanity could flourish. It was also designed as a Laboratory, a place where, with a fresh start, humankind could rehearse new ways of being and of managing the world to live in peace and harmony with each other and other species. The dream was to build conditions for continuous learning and great achievements, to prepare ourselves to meet new worlds and elevate human existence. The lessons learned should be delivered to Earth to improve life there. The best minds on Earth, at the time, where called upon for this unique venture. The best of the best thinkers were brought to ComplexCity in the role of experts to guide its development. Despite their best efforts, we are now facing many problems that resemble those faced by Earth 50 years ago. Something (or many things?) went wrong!

Our best efforts are currently focused on finding new approaches solutions. The previous generation have made mistakes and despite their expertise it was clear that their thinking was NOT complex enough to deal with the complexity of the world and life, both on Earth and in Space.

You have been recruited to Complex Thinking Academy to be trained as (more) Complex Thinkers. Your mission, 'should you choose to accept it' is to stretch your minds with the Tools for Complex Thinking and explore its potential!"

CTAbriefing report for participants v2021.pdf

ComplexCity initial plan

(Year 2068)

ComplexCity Year 2118

The participant's briefing report comprehends the initial information provided to participants and that sets the scene for the activities and introduces the situation of ComplexCity. The instructors' report has additional and more detailed information to which participants have access depending on the questions they pose during the sessions and/or of the instructors facilitation strategy, adapted and fitted for the unfolding of the thinking in each group.

Past CTA workshops

Flyer York Festival of Ideas

CTA at Associação Cultura Curto Espaço 2019

Collective mapping of Critical Observers

Use of analogic Relatoscopes and Observatrons

Observatrons being used

S. João Madeira 2019-under CES Goes to School

Virtual CTA under CES Goes to School- View of video gallery

S. João da Madeira 2019- under CES Goes to School


Workshops (3 hours) “Complex Thinking Academy”, for secondary school students (10-12th grades):under the scope of the program “CES goes to School” (outreach/extension program of the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra targeting schools), online sessions

  • 9 April 2021: Escola Secundária de Pombal

  • 16 April: Agrupamento de Escolas Da Sé

  • 16 April: Escola Secundária de Pombal

  • 23 April: Agrupamento de Escolas Da Sé


Workshop (3 hours) “Complex Thinking Academy”, for secondary school students (10-12th grades):under the scope of the program “CES goes to School” (outreach/extension program of the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra targeting schools)

  • 12 February: Secondary School of Pombal

  • 20 February: Agrupamento de Escolas da Sé, Lamego

  • 13 December (2 sessions): Escola Básica e Secundária Oliveira Júnior, S. João da Madeira

  • 17 December: Escola Secundária João Gonçalves Zarco, Matosinhos

2019- 4 and 11- 2 session workshop (2 x 3 h) titled “Complex Thinking Academy", targeting the general population, by organisation and invitation of Associação Cultural Cultura Curto Espaço, Aguda, Arcozelo, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal Facebook


16 June 2018- Workshop titled “Thinking: destination unknown”, targeting the general population, at the York Festival of Ideas, 2018, York, UK. Link to Event

20 July 2018: Workshop “Complex Thinking Academy at YCCSA” (4 hours) [focused on the concept and practice of complex thinking] at the York Cross-Disciplinary Centre for Systems Analysis, University of York. UK, targeting an interdisciplinary audience of research students and academics

2018: Workshop for family practitioners

Training, new developments, adaptations and evaluation research

If you wish to be trained to be a trainer of the Complex Thinking Academy, adapt the materials to particular contexts and applications or expand it, or conduct evaluation or other research studies about the Complex Thinking Academies please contact us. We will be happy to exploring ways of collaborating.

Requesting Complex Thinking Academy workshops

If you wish to run a 'Complex Thinking Academy' workshop at your research centre, community, school, or workplace please contact us. We are now running both face-to-face and online events.