Academic Profile

Academic Profile

Prof John Stephen Lansing

Co-Director, Complexity Institute
Professor, Asian School of the Environment

Phone: +65 69083487
Office: ABN 01B 07
Prof John Stephen Lansing

J. Stephen Lansing is Director of the Complexity Institute and Professor, Asian School of the Environment at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and the Vienna Complexity Hub, and president of the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association. His recent research has to do with adaptive self-organized criticality in coupled social-ecological systems, and co-phylogenies of languages and genes from 67 villages on 17 islands in the Malay archipelago and Papua, which led to the discovery of two unknown species of archaic human ancestors, and an unknown community of cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers in Borneo. In 2012 he developed a UNESCO World Heritage for the subaks and water temple networks of Bali.
Before moving to Arizona in 1998, Lansing held joint appointments at the University of Michigan in the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Department of Anthropology, and earlier chaired the Anthropology Department of the University of Southern California. He has been a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the Institute of Advanced Study at Durham University and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta. Publications and films are available at, simulation models at
Research Interests
Lansing's recent research has to do with the long-term dynamics of coupled social-ecological systems, focusing on two topics. The first has to do with emergent properties of Balinese water temple networks. Currently he is assisting the Government of Indonesia to create a new UNESCO World Heritage site to help preserve the temple networks. The second project is a comparative study of social structure, ecology, kinship, language change and the evolution of disease resistance in 69 villages on 14 Indonesian islands. Recent books include Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali (2006) and Priests & Programmers: Technologies of Power in the Engineered Landscape of Bali (2007). Documentary films include The Goddess and the Computer (1988), a segment of The Sacred Balance (2003), Perfect Order (2006) and Voyagers on the Ring of Fire (2011).
Current Projects
  • Co-evolution of humans and infectious diseases in island southeast Asia
  • Modeling the effects of social processes on demography and lifestyle diseases
  • Working Groups on Transition Pathways: Islands of Order
  • Working Groups on Transition Pathways: Islands of Order
Selected Publications
  • Lansing JS, Thurner S, Chung NN, Coudurier-Curveur A, Karakas C, Fesenmyer KA and Chew LY. (2017). Adaptive self-organization of Bali's ancient rice terraces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), .
  • Sugiarto HS, Lansing JS, Chung NN, Lai CH, Cheong SA and Chew LY. (2017). Social cooperation and disharmony in communities mediated through common pool resource exploitation. Physical Review Letters, 118, 208301.

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