Systems and complexity

MOOC on Ignorance!

In a recent RealKM Magazine article, which attracted considerable interest, we featured the videos from an Information Innovation @ UTS webinar on the topic of ignorance management. The webinar presenters were Michael Smithson, Jason Collins, and Matt Moore.

Michael Smithson has also joined with Gabriele Bammer to convene an edX Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on “Ignorance!” which is introduced in the video above.

The MOOC is based on Michael Smithson’s pioneering work on ignorance, and Gabriele Bammer looks specifically at the importance of ignorance in dealing with complex problems. Guest lecturers also make appearances in Ignorance! throughout the course.

The MOOC ran in 2015 and 2017, but is still available in self-paced mode. The course is free. It is taught in English, with the captions and transcripts also available in traditional and simplified Chinese.

The topics covered are:

  • What is ignorance?
  • Where does ignorance come from?
  • Are there different kinds of ignorance?
  • When is ignorance good or bad for us?
  • How are unknowns dealt with in different domains?
  • Can we make good decisions under ignorance?


Michael Smithson Michael Smithson is a Professor in the Research School of Psychology at the Australian National University. His primary research interests are in judgement and decision-making under ignorance and uncertainty, and statistical methods for the social sciences. His publications include 8 books, 2 edited collections, and more than 170 refereed journal articles and book chapters.
Gabriele Bammer Professor Gabriele Bammer is developing the new discipline of Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) to improve research strengths for tackling complex real-world problems through synthesis of disciplinary and stakeholder knowledge, understanding and managing diverse unknowns and providing integrated research support for policy and practice change. This is described in Disciplining Interdisciplinarity: Integration and Implementation Sciences for Researching Complex Real-World Problems. She runs the Integration and Implementation Inisghts (i2Inisghts) blog and convenes the Global Network for Research Integration and Implementation.

Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine ( and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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