Dystopia Intro


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Advancing Resilience Theory and Tools to Combat Environmental Surprise

Sponsor: Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP)


Project Abstract: This project will develop theory and novel tools for improved assessment, planning, and investment of Department of Defense (DoD) infrastructure resources to enhance resilience, sustainment, and mission assurance in the presence of climate extremes and surprises that challenge system function. While best practices for military infrastructure currently follow principles of reliability and risk, these are—by necessity—based on knowledge of past events. They are not suited to adapt infrastructure to dramatic change and/or future surprising events. This project will complement current approaches by predicating investigative techniques on a theory of resilience that emphasizes adaptive response to surprise. This project will advance this theory to develop an investigative method and technology platform for vulnerability analysis, simulation, and wargame exercises with "realistic, yet fictitious" infrastructure systems set in a virtual simulation world to assess and improve the capacity of military installations to adapt to surprise.


Technical Approach: The technical approach is organized in three integrated thrusts focused on the development of theory and frameworks for measuring resilience, advances in tools for simulating surprise, and experiential learning with wargaming and case studies. Research tasks for Thrust 1 advance measures of resilience by linking sensing, anticipating, adapting, and learning processes with established theories of surprise from military history and the intelligence community. Thrust 2 builds on Thrust 1 to add new features and gaming capacities to an established training tool called Dystopia to create a platform for investigating how military practitioners respond to surprising climate stressors. Thrust 3 builds on Thrust 2 to develop novel training and wargaming capacities to assess and improve expertise in responding to surprise events. Together, this project advances a deeper understanding of resilience while building the tools and methods to assess and improve resilience across military installations.

Dystopia Project Members

Project Members

Naval Postgraduate School

Dr. David Alderson, Principal Investigator

Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, Co-PI

Dr. Rudolph Darken, Co-PI

Michelle Louise Hancock

Jacob Wigal 

Dr. Emily Pesicka


Arizona State University

Dr. Thomas Seager, Co-PI