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Durham University

Research & business

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Tipping Points

A research project of the Department of History.


The term "tipping point" refers to a critical threshold at which a small change can qualitatively alter the state of a system. The project, led by the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, examined historical evidence from the North Atlantic ocean climate system and financial crises, both past and present, as well as other examples of systems thought to show tipping point behaviour. It used state of the art mathematical analysis tools to explore whether or not Tipping Points are truly a property of the systems they purport to describe. It also investigated how ideas and beliefs regarding Tipping Points come about through discourse and fashion. Tipping Points, if they truly are a characteristic of the world around us, have profound implications for the way we manage a risky world.

 For full information on this project, see the IHRR Tipping Points project site.


From the Department of History