JULY 6, 2002

Committee Recommendation to the Policy Council

          The Committee on Special Interest Groups recommends that the System Dynamics Society adopt a policy of encouraging the formation of Special Interest Groups and formally recognizing those which meet the minimum membership criterion of six SDS members, and which function in accordance with the policies and procedures set forth in the Committee Report.

Background - Committee

          At the SDS Winter Policy Council meeting in Providence, Rhode Island on February 13, 2002, the proposal by Carol Frances to explore forming Special Interest Groups associated with the SDS was discussed and a consensus was reached that they should be encouraged.

          President James Hines appointed a committee to pursue the idea and make recommendations for consideration at the July 27, 2002 Policy Council meeting in Palermo.

          The Special Interest Group Committee members are:

Carol Frances

1999 SD in HE Conference Co-Chair

Michael Kennedy

UK SD Chapter and 1999 SD in HE Conference Co-Chair

Anne Dowling

(proposing a Public Policy SIG)

Bob Eberlein

(SDS President-Elect)

Bob Walker

(National Capital Special Interest Group)

          The Committee concluded that it is useful to distinguish three different ways member groups could be associated with the System Dynamics Society:

1.     Chapters, which are legal entities, with their own constitution and bylaws, and which are geographically based.

2.     Local Groups, which are small groups, geographically based, which may or may not contemplate forming a Chapter in the future.

3.     Special Interest Groups, which bring together SDS members with a shared interest in applications of system dynamics to a particular subject domain, but which are not separate legal entities as are Chapters.

Task of the Committee

          The Committee is tasked to identify the issues and make recommendations with respect to the formation and recognition of Special Interest Groups by the System Dynamics Society.

          The Special Interest Groups would invite the participation of people with a shared interest in applying system dynamics approaches to a particular subject domain, thereby extending the reach of the SDS. The two domains to be explored initially for potential interest in forming Special Interest Groups are higher education and public policy analysis. 

          The committee proceeded first by contacting a number of other professional associations to obtain information about how they organize their special interest groups as reflected in their constitutions, bylaws, and policies and procedures, and in discussions with their executive staffs.  Using this information as a foundation and after considering the SDS' own interests, aspirations, and style of operation, a proposal was drafted and circulated for review and comment in preparation for a more formal proposal for consideration at the July 2002 Policy Council meeting in Palermo.

          There are two basic purposes of the proposal to organize special interest groups:  the first purpose is to focus the attention of system dynamics theorists and practitioners on the particular subject domain to demonstrate the potential value of system dynamics approaches, and the second purpose is to extend the reach and influence of the System Dynamics Society.

          It is the opinion of the SIG Committee that the organization of the SIGs can be accomplished through the SDS Policies and Procedures and does not require any modification of the Bylaws, with the exception of changing the name of the representative on the Policy Council from Vice-President for Chapters to Vice-President for Chapters and Special Groups

Issues and Recommendations

          The issues to be considered by the Policy Council and the recommendations of our Special Committee are these:

1.     Nature of the Special Interest Groups

          The scope of the Special Interest Groups are defined by the members who identify themselves through a shared interest in a particular subject domain.

          The special interest groups do not form a separate legal identity but are simply a group of System Dynamic Society members with a shared interest.

          The SIGs are different from the Chapters of the SDS, which are organized by geographic area; from Local Area Groups, such as the National Capital Group in Canada; or from Student Chapters, whose members are identified by their student status.   

          The two subject domains in which members have already made their intent to form Special Interest Groups known are higher education and public policy analysis.

 2.     Relationship to the SDS

          The Special Interest Groups are formed from the general membership of the  SDS and are not independent entities, as are the Chapters which have their own constitution, bylaws, and policies and procedures.

          A list of Special Interest Groups should be publicized via the SDS web siite, the President's letter, and other publications.   

          The SIGs will communicate with the SDS Policy Council through written reports submitted to the Vice-President for Chapters, redesignated as the Vice-President for Chapters and Special Groups

3.     Requirements for Recognition

          To apply for recognition by SDS as an organized Special Interest Group, the group must have at least six SDS members signing on, and at least two people willing to serve as leaders of the group responsible to SDS for reporting to the Policy Council on the activities of the group. 

          Activities and a current list of SIG members will be reported annually and the minimum of six SDS member must be met for continued recognition. 

          Recognition of a Special Interest Group may be rescinded with 10 days notice if the Policy Council feels there is reasonable cause to do so.

4.     Membership

          Membership in Special Interest Groups is open to all dues-paying members of the System Dynamics Society.  People with shared interests but who are not members of the SDS are also welcome to participate in the activities of the Special Interest Group.  SDS members and other individuals wishing to join a Special Interest Group may do so by contacting either of the appointed representatives.  The contact information should be made available on the Society website.

5.     Meeting and Selection of Representatives

          Each Special Interest Group will meet once during the annual meeting of the System Dynamics Society and select two leaders.  The Special Interest Group may choose any process to select its leaders but both must be confirmed by a simple majority vote of the SIG members present during the meeting. 

 6.    Dues

          The Special Interest Group will not charge any dues.  The work of the SIGs will be done by volunteers.  The SIGs may, however, occasionally engage in activities that require payment, and only those members choosing to pay will be eligible to participate in those activities.   

6.  Sponsorship of Activities

          The SIGs may request SDS recognition of and/or co-sponsorship of specially organized major programs.  The review of the request and response to the SIG will be the responsibility of the SDS Executive Director and Executive Committee, who may choose to bring the request before the SDS Policy Council.

7.    Policies

          The SIGs may be encouraged to submit proposals for high quality programs at the SDS annual conferences.

          The SIGs are encouraged to promote interaction with professional and academic organizations whose members have similar interests.   

8.    Presence on the SDS Website

          Information about how to join a Special Interest Group will be posted on the SDS website.


The professional associations which were contacted for information about the organization of their special interest groups include:

       American Economic Association

       American Educational Research Association

       Association for Institutional Research

       Association for the Study of Higher Education

       British Computer Society, Configuration Management Group

       Informs  (created by the merger of ORSA and TIMS)