With coworkers (students – former and present - other faculty in the complex systems group and international collaborators), my research focus is to develop new ways of understanding the evolution and organization of human societies. My research at the moment deals with issues concerning the deep human past, opinion dynamics and economic geography. We work on several levels – from specific case studies up to basic concept, model and method development. The basis for our work is the presence of features of systems under adaptive transformation that are common to just about any instance: animal culture, early hominin culture, modern culture, biological organic evolution – even how we distribute our activities today across geographical and social space. In particular, I think the origins and evolution of human societies is key to understanding our social world. Social science and history is quite truncated here – many of the features of the systems and their dynamics must be taken simply as facts. But it is impossible to look at our pre-historic emergence from a great ape state without noticing how our cultural and biological features evolved together. Culture makes us human, but we are very specifically adapted organisms – culture doesn’t make dogs human for example! Understanding this is key to understanding, for example, how nature and nurture should be delineated and how their interplay should be understood. We lack a fundamental understanding of how humans evolved – what type of creatures we are, what type of evolutionary trajectory are we looking at?I take an interest also in understanding the organization and dynamics quite fundamentally: What type of system are we talking about? What features do problems and solutions in such a system have with regard to finding, understanding and dealing with them? Policy-related research is actually quite inexplicit about how it conceives of the systems and problems under study. Society is complex – but what is it to be complex? How does the complexity of societies compare with the way in which, say, bird flocks and computers are complex systems? What does this tell us about what methodologies and tools we should be using or developing? About the types of goals that we may have?Key to the type of complexity we see in human societies is a general lack of clear scale separations. The dynamics of generated higher levels of organization unfold on timescales that overlap with those on lower levels – and there is in the general case no way to make a clear cut across cultural systems. The rules of the game change on similar times scales that the game itself changes. We call such systems, and others like them, “Wicked Systems” (see Societal Systems: Complex or Worse below) – and to understand them we think we need a constructively critical attitude to current approaches in science, one where one takes care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!