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A better world through a systems approach

Complexity Explorer's Origins of Life Course

  • Date:
    Jun 14, 2019 - Sep 3, 2019
  • Venue:

This information is being passed to our membership as a chapter service to inform you of an online course offered by Complexity Explorer at Sante Fe Institute.  Complexity Explorer provides online courses and educational materials about complexity science.  Complexity Explorer is an education project of the Santa Fe Institute - the world headquarters for complexity science.

There are 6 units in the course, beginning with a broad overview of topics in the introduction lectures and ending with a unit on Astrobiology.  To receive your certificate for course completion, you will need to score a cumulative 60% on the six unit exams, the final exam, and the peer review assignment. Exams are released on Tuesdays, four days after each unit is released. The peer review assignment is due August 23. All materials must be finished before September 2 at 11 pm MST.

The first unit is posted on the course website:  I will be posting units on Friday mornings (10 am MST), with 2 units then a gap week as our general schedule. A detailed calendar is available in the course FAQ.

The course webpage has a number of very useful features.  In addition to the material under the "Lectures" tab, there's a "Supplementary Material" section. If you've never taken a Complexity Explorer course before, you can watch the "How to use Complexity Explorer" video.

Also, very important is the "Forum" section of the webpage. I'd like to encourage all of you to post on the "Introduce Yourself" subforum; let us what your interests are! As we move through the course there will be forums specific to each unit to discuss the material presented. As this is a Frontiers course the forums should be a great place to explore origins of life!

There is also a map for the course where students can let us know where they live!  When you go to the map's page, just go to "Additions" and "Add Marker – Simple”. 

I will send out weekly course announcements via this email account.  More frequent course updates will be in the Class Announcements forum.

A few important details:

If you have questions or comments about the lectures, quizzes, or homework, please do post them on the forum for discussion.

If you have questions or comments about any of the unit tests, though, please email us at - do not post about them on the forum.

If you find a bug or a broken link or some other thing that's going to trip up others in the class, please do both!  (the "Technical Issues" subforum & email)

Please check out the FAQ section for other useful answers to questions about this course.

Please consider donating to help support this course and the generation of future content. 100% of your donation will go to supporting the online education program.  Your donation is fully tax-deductible in the US.  The suggested donation is $50, but any amount you can donate will be greatly appreciated.

To donate, go to, or go to our home page.  This will lead you to a secure site where you can donate using a credit card or a PayPal account.

Also, don't forget about our online shop - your purchase also goes to support our programs and it can be shipped anywhere in the world!

Thanks for your participation in and support of Santa Fe Institute’s online education program. 

Welcome to the course!

Sarah (and Maria)