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On 21 April the Amsterdam Brain and Cognition Center (ABC) and the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) organized a symposium on Decision Making. The Symposium, a joined initiative from the Faculty of Science (FNWI), the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG) and the Faculty of Humanities (FGw) was a great success. Almost 180 researches and students from various Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes actively joined in the discussions. By the end of the day the audience and the lectures had a better view on the ongoing research in the decision sciences at the UvA. This will open up opportunities to join forces and to start a broader interdisciplinary collaboration.

Keynote lecture

Paul Glimcher, director of the New York University Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Decision Making gave a key note lecture on Neuroeconomics: What We Have Learned and What Lies Ahead and fed the audience with influential recent research in this area. He presented compelling examples of how research into decision making has substantially converged between disciplines and, as a consequence, became highly interdisciplinary over the past 20 years. He stressed that close breaking down the barriers between the different disciplines in this field will be essential for successfully tackling the big challenges for our understanding of decision making in the future. 

Why decision making?

The world is becoming increasingly complex and society has to deal with rapid developments (by globalizing, the availability of digital data, the influence of social media) as well as major challenges such as climate change, terrorism and security, and outbreaks of infectious diseases. Individuals, governments, organizations and companies must choose a particular position and determine their strategy in complex issues under uncertainty. These developments lead to a higher demand for research at the interface of decision support and decision making.

Panel discussions

After Paul Glimcher’s grand overview talk, moderator Damiaan Denys led a discussion in which researchers from various UvA departments together with the audience focused on the following questions; Who is in control of decision making? What drives greedy decision making? Will computing change the role of human decision-makers? It became clear that the overlapping areas are very interesting and that they stimulate cooperation.

Further developments

An interdisciplinary project group is formed to investigate the possibilities of an interdisciplinary MSc programme on decision making at the UvA.