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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 7:00 EDT

Santa Fe Institute: New Opportunities in Fundraising

November 7, 2008

SANTA FE, N.M., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire/ — In a time of economic turmoil, philanthropic giving seems to be the last thing on people’s agenda. The Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a scientific research institute founded in 1984 sees this as an opportunity to link their innovative research in complex systems to real-world phenomena.

Dedicated to understanding complex systems in order to address key environmental, technological, biological, economic, and political challenges, the Santa Fe Institute looks for long-term solutions rather than short term fixes. As a not-for-profit, independent research and education center the Santa Fe Institute relies on philanthropic giving and grants for at least 50% of its funding.

Since its inception the Institute has been studying complex systems when the world seemed like a simpler place. Until recently, most people didn’t really understood what this meant. Now, everywhere we look we see evidence of complex interactions that shape our world. People are asking, “Why should the meltdown of AIG affect my ability to get a car loan?” or “Why should I care about pollution in Beijing?” We have never been more interconnected and understanding these complex systems is now at the forefront of people’s minds.

Research is usually the first on the chopping block during an economic downturn, and theoretical research is particularly vulnerable because the results are usually long-term. Yet SFI believes this time the trend will be different. Shannon Larsen, Executive Director of Development and Corporate Relations at SFI says, “In every downturn there are always forward-thinking people who invest early and win big. SFI believes in the next year people will readjust their priorities and invest in research. The winnings might not be monetary, but we believe people are seeking peace of mind that they are contributing to the solutions to global problems.”

Larsen also states, “I can’t think of better examples of the dynamics of complex systems than the events we have seen in the last few years such as the global financial meltdown, climate change, SARS and the spread of terrorist cells. SFI thinks about the big picture and we are committed to a broad perspective, even when it is not in vogue.”

The Santa Fe Institute’s acclaimed researchers have always been dedicated to rediscovering the connections that exist in complex systems. Thought leaders including the renowned Brian Arthur, John Holland J. Doyne Farmer, Nobelists Murray Gell-Mann and Kenneth Arrow, and Time Man of Year, Dr. Geoffrey West, have made ground breaking discoveries through their innovative approach to understanding economic, physical, biological and technological systems. These breakthroughs would not have been possible without sustained charitable giving. Many philanthropists and donors understood long ago that it takes a unique research environment to answer the critical questions before us.

In 1984 SFI’s founders recognized that research was becoming increasingly specialized — systems were deliberately broken down into their component parts for detailed analysis. But as the disciplines became narrower and more specific, they also became more isolated from each other and a sense of the whole was lost. In the process of rediscovering the connections in complex systems SFI developed new models, new tools and new methods of inquiry that continue to transform science.

Larsen says, “We know the world isn’t simple, but recent events show us just how complex it really is. SFI has been dedicated to developing a core understanding of the dynamic nature of complex systems for twenty-five years — we are used to thinking about complexity. SFI has always attracted a different type of thinker who isn’t afraid of thinking big and bold, whether they join our community as researchers, supporters or donors.”

The Institute is inaugurating its 25th Anniversary with a Gala Dinner that will be held in Santa Fe on November 8th. Instead of downsizing the event because of the uncertain economic climate Larsen has been pleased with the strong support from the local community. Tickets at the $1000 level sold out early, with only a few $500 tickets available.

“The 25th Anniversary events planned throughout the coming year are a perfect opportunity to make the case for continued investment in the cutting- edge research for which SFI is known,” Larsen says. “We look forward to raising awareness on a worldwide level and also deepening ties within the local community.”

The Santa Fe Institute community includes renowned scientists and researchers from universities, government agencies, research institutes, and private industry to collaborate in attempts to understand the mechanisms that underlie the deep simplicity present in our complex world.

For more information on the 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner or on charitable giving, please visit http://www.santafe.edu/.

Santa Fe Institute

CONTACT: Cara Morrissey of Ballantines PR, +1-310-454-3080, cell,+1-310-499-3033, cara@ballantinespr.com, for Santa Fe Institute

Web site: http://www.santafe.edu/