C-ROADS Analysis in Science article (June 07, 2014)

The news item A bold baby step on emissions, by Eli Kintisch from the new issue of Science (6 JUNE 2014 • VOL 344 ISSUE 6188 1071) discusses the likely impact of the new proposed EPA rules limiting CO2 emissions from existing coal plants. The team at Science asked Climate Interactive to analyze the impact of the rules on global emissions and warming.

Opponents of the rules including the coal industry argue that the US rules will have only a small impact on global emissions and warming, but the goal of the rule is also to promote reductions by other nations. Up to now, nations including China (the world’s largest emitter), India, and other key developing nations have argued that they should not be asked to cut their emissions or coal use when the US has no policies to cut theirs. The new rules, if implemented, will undercut this argument, and may be important in leading to a new global agreement to reduce emissions now being negotiated, with a target date for agreement of 2015, at the UNFCCC meeting to be held in Paris that year. The C-ROADS analysis shows that if other nations follow the US reductions the benefits are huge, with future warming falling from nearly 5°C above preindustrial levels to just above 2°C.

Further explanation and documentation of the analysis can be found here. Sent in by John Sterman.


In Memoriam (June 5, 2014)

Klaus Dieter John
Klaus Dieter John from Chemnitz University of Technology passed away two weeks ago. Klaus was a long time member and participant at our conferences every year. In addition to being a past representative of the Economics Chapter, Klaus was an enthusiastic reviewer for conference paper submissions. Klaus introduced his daughter Sarah and son Sebastian to System Dynamics and they accompanied him to a number of our conferences. Sarah wrote recently “My father often told us how much he enjoyed being part of the System Dynamics Society. He really cherished the friendly and warmhearted atmosphere that he hadn’t experienced at any other society in that intensity and manner. I just wanted to let you know, how inspiring the System Dynamics Society had been to him.”

Narendra K Patni
picture from www.jainsamaj.org
Narendra K Patni from Patni Holdings LLC has died recently. Naren was a steadfast sponsor and member the System Dynamics Society for many years. He was a graduate of MIT Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Naren was a student of Jay Forrester and worked for him for a few years prior to the formation of Patni Computer Systems, an extremely successful Indian outsourcing business. Earlier this year, Naren wrote a quick note to the Society office, “He [Jay] and I go a long way back. He is my true mentor.” Naren introduced his son Anirudh to System Dynamics; Anirudh was also a member of the Society.


Rogelio Oliva wins POM Society's Skinner Teaching Innovation Award (May 30, 2014)

Executive Editor of the System Dynamics Review and MIT Sloan PhD alum in System Dynamics Rogelio Oliva has been awarded the Skinner Teaching Innovation Award by the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). Congratulations Rogelio! Below a description of the award and the citation.

The purpose of this award is to recognize impact and innovation in the teaching of Production and Operations Management courses.

Award Criteria:
  1. Pedagogical excellence. This could be documented through the diversity of courses taught and student evaluations, letters of support from former students and/or assessments of knowledgeable colleagues.
  2. Creativity and/or innovation. This would be reflected in teaching approaches and methodologies (e.g., team teaching, student teams, action learning, role playing, etc.) and/or new ways for understanding actual operations problems and the methods that can be applied to deal with them (e.g., frameworks, technology, software, etc.).
  3. Impact. In this case, impact on the field, the profession, students/executives, and managers is of relevance. Various types of evidence could be offered to demonstrate that the applicant’s teaching has influenced the world of POM. Having taught large numbers of students is certainly one measure of impact, but more important is evidence that the applicant’s teaching has influenced behavior. This could be documented via letters from former students, statements from people in industry who have hired former students, and letters from other academics who have themselves been influenced by the applicant’s teaching (e.g., by adopting a book, case or course structure).

Citation: Professor Oliva is truly a master of the case method of teaching. His former students describe his classes as extremely demanding, even stressful, but their appreciation is clear from his consistently school-leading teaching evaluations as well as the remarkable 12 teaching awards that he has received in his 16 years of teaching. Former students consistently comment that Professor Oliva’s classes were transformational for them in the professional journeys. In addition, he has made substantial contributions to our profession through his numerous case method workshops around the world, as well as his widely-adopted Harvard Business School cases and teaching notes.

The list of past winners is at http://www.poms.org/2009/02/teaching_innovation_awards.html#more.


Yukata Takahashi quoted in Japanese newspaper (May 27, 2014)

Society member, Professor Yutaka Takahashi of Senshu University School of Commerce, reported to us that he was recently quoted in the Yomiuri Shimbun morning edition.

At issue was public procurement for a job training program. There are laws in Japan that prohibit public officers having close contact with prospective bidders prior to the bidding process. Despite this, several officers of the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare gave much information to a prospective bidder, the Japan Organization for Employment of the Elderly, Persons with Disabilities and Job Seekers (JEED).

Professor Takahashi credits his System Dynamics experience with aiding him in concluding that even though regulation and punishments are in place for the public procurement process, there are “systematic problems…”. He went on to say, “The schedule and nationwide scale of this project caused uncertainty and related organizations’ avoidance of responsibility. The correct solution must redesign the whole project as a system, balance resources and project size, and avoid underestimating unfavorable time evolution of small changes.”

Professor Takahashi is a member of the public procurement supervision committee, Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in Japan.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has a daily circulation of over 9.8 million copies.


System Dynamics Africa Chapter takes off with a big bang! (May 22, 2014)

The Society’s Policy Council recently approved the formation of the System Dynamics Africa Regional Chapter. This is an important step in creating awareness of System Dynamics and its applications in solving pressing societal challenges across Africa. The Chapter’s membership covers nearly 30 countries.

The objectives of the Chapter are to:

  1. promote understanding and awareness of System Dynamics as a problem solving approach to many Africa-based problems;
  2. identify, develop, extend and disseminate knowledge contributing to the understanding of feedback systems in Africa;
  3. promote the development of the field of System Dynamics and the free interchange of learning, research and scholarship in all related fields in Africa;
  4. encourage and develop educational programmes in the feedback behaviour of systems in Africa.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Chapter shall conduct meetings, workshops, and conferences; and publish books and other materials.

There are many items on the Chapter’s agenda. Soon it shall hold its proposed flagship Conference, the 1st International Workshop on System Dynamics, Big Data and Cloud Computing. The conference will be held on the 11th and 12th of November, 2014, in Nairobi, Kenya. The 10th of November will be reserved for the PhD Colloquium.

You are welcome to take part as an author, reviewer, adviser or participant to get current knowledge and understanding of System Dynamics and its applications in Africa.

The president of the Chapter, Professor Ddembe Williams, says, “We expect Case studies, experience papers, and theoretical papers mainly focusing on global societal challenges, including global health, food security, climate change, software development, water usage, and policy development.” There will be four plenary sessions.

More information including the call will be available on the Society’s website.


New article in the American Journal of Public Health, “Using Simulation to Compare 4 Categories of Intervention for Reducing Cardiovascular Disease Risks” (May 22, 2014)

AJPH is one of the world’s leading public health journals and has been selected as a core journal by the Medical Library Association. The June 2014 issue includes three articles with System Dynamics content. The above-named article uses the Prevention Impacts Simulation Model (PRISM) to compare four categories of intervention—clinical, behavioral support, health promotion and access, and taxes and regulation—for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. PRISM is a wide-ranging, evidence-based System Dynamics model funded continuously since 2007 by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with additional major funding from the National Institutes of Health. It received the System Dynamics Society’s Application Award in 2011. The new article is the most complete published presentation of PRISM to date. The authors are System Dynamics Society members Gary Hirsch, Jack Homer, and Kristina Wile, along with health economist Justin Trogdon and CDC supervisor, Diane Orenstein. For more information, go to http://ajph.aphapublications.org or contact one of the authors.



Credit Suisse IQP team with alumni Souleymane Bah (center) outside of Credit Suisse in Zurich, Switzerland. http://wp.wpi.edu/

Souleymane Bah (Society Member) and Credit Suisse host WPI students for IQP (May 10, 2014)

When Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) proposed a Switzerland Project Center or Hub of Engagement, Souleymane Bah ’07, a graduate in Systems Dynamics who now works for Credit Suisse in Zurich got involved to help a group of students have this research opportunity. An Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) is not organized as a course, nor is it related to the major. Instead, small teams of students work under the guidance of faculty members from all disciplines to conduct research, using social science methods, directed at a specific problem or need. Students deliver findings and recommendations through formal reports and oral presentations to project sponsors (often nonprofit, municipal, or government agencies) and faculty advisors. Now, thanks to the generosity of Credit Suisse and the enthusiasm of Souleymane, four WPI students are completing their IQPs at Credit Suisse.



Prof. dr. Jac Vennix

Jac Vennix, Former Society President, Receives High Honor (April 25, 2014)

Jac Vennix received a Royal Honour from the King of the Netherlands. The Honour recognized Dr. Vennix for his scientific achievements in the field of System Dynamics and lauded his activities in sharing his knowledge in academic and non-academic networks in the Netherlands and globally. This Honour was presented to Jac on April 25, 2014 by the Mayor of his hometown. The Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands (Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw) was conferred on Jac.


Pictured (with ribbons) from left to right: Rob van der Heijden, Jac Vennix, Wim Brand, John Jansen, and Ad van der Avoird. Also in the picture: Wilma de Koning, Gerard Meijer, and Bas Kortmann.

In the Mayor’s award speech, he stressed that Dr. Vennix is internationally recognized as a leader in System Dynamics. The Mayor highlighted Jac’s contributions to the System Dynamics field, including his appointment as Society President, his 1996 book, Group Model Building, and his role as a driving force behind the Erasmus Mundus European Master Programme in System Dynamics, the first program of its kind in Europe. In 2000 he founded the Netherlands System Dynamics network. Edward Anderson, President of the System Dynamics Society states, “We are delighted to hear about Jac’s award. I cannot think of a more deserving scholar. I also am pleased that his contributions to System Dynamics are specifically recognized.”

Jac was joined by the dean of the faculty, prof. Rob van der Heijden, who also received a Royal Honour today, both for their outstanding academic and social merits.

Congratulations Jac!


2014 Student Prize Winner at UK Chapter Annual Conference (April 22, 2014)

The 16th annual conference of UK Chapter was held at London School of Economics, April 3-4, 2014. The theme of the conference was “Operational Risk and Analytics”. A series of presentations and issues related to the theme were presented and discussed by scholars, practitioners, and students at the conference. The UK Chapter Policy Council awarded a student prize to Jennifer Morgan for her work “Exploring frameworks for mixing DES and SD in theory and in practice” presented on Friday April 4th. For more information about the conference, please visit the UK Chapter website.


Society Member Kimberly M. Thompson, and colleagues, win the Edelman Award (April 3, 2014)

Press Release (March 31, 2014) - INFORMS issued a press release that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which collaborated with Kid Risk, Inc. to use analytics and operations research to combat the remaining pockets of polio around the world, won the 2014 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

The award is a top honor for high impact real-world applications of operations research and management science.
The award was for their work “Using Integrated Analytical Models to Support Global Health Policies to Manage Vaccine Preventable Diseases: Polio Eradication and Beyond.” Here is a short video of the award announcement and presentation.

Society member Kimberly M. Thompson is President of Kid Risk, Inc. Kim spent several years as a visiting faculty member at the System Dynamics Group at MIT Sloan. Kim and her nonprofit, Kid’s Risk work to use data, models, and analytics to improve the health and welfare of children around the world.

Kim is also a winner of the Jay W. Forrester Award (2008) with Radboud J. Duintjer Tebbens, for “Eradication Versus Control for Poliomyelitis: an Economic Analysis” published in The Lancet 369 (9570): 1363-137, April 2007.

Congratulations to Kim and her colleagues.


Frank Davidson, 95, of Concord, MA and Montfort-L'Amaury, France has passed away (March 27, 2014)

Frank Davidson, past chair of the System Dynamics Steering Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has passed away. Frank served on this committee for more than a quarter century along with Jay Forrester. Frank was one of the earliest sponsors of the System Dynamics Society and continued to support the Society in a number of ways. Frank had a diverse and interesting background, he founded and co-chaired the Channel Tunnel Study Group and was credited with getting the Channel Tunnel built. In 2006, he published a two-volume classic, Building the World, featuring the world’s greatest engineering works with original contracts that launched these achievements. Just recently, the sequel Building the Future was presented. Jay Forrester said, “I was always amazed by Frank’s wide acquaintanceship. I seldom mentioned a name that he did not know, or knew someone who knew the person.” Roberta Spencer noted “Frank’s energy and cheerful enjoyment of life was contagious. I admired him greatly.” Jim Hines adds “Frank Davidson was many things. To me, he was a gentle raconteur with old world manners and the most charming man I ever met.” Please see the tribute written by Kathleen Lusk Brooke.


Dr. Max Moehs discusses climate change with Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) -- picture from climateinteractive.wordpress.com
Annual Climate Science Day (March 27, 2014)

Charles Paul “Max” Moehs, Ph.D. from the American Society of Plant Biologists writes a short blog describing his experience as one of about 40 scientists who lobbied members of Congress on the annual Climate Science Day, this past January. Max describes how Climate Science Day works, and how he used concepts from Climate Interactive’s climate modeling including the “carbon bathtub” to help people understand why it’s urgent to cut emissions and how deeply they must be cut. John Sterman notes “It’s great to see these System Dynamics concepts spreading and to see folks like Max engaging in direct action.”

First Issue of “Policy and Complex Systems” Now Available! (March 24, 2014)

The Policy Studies Organization is pleased to announce the first issue of the Journal on Policy and Complex Systems.

The Journal on Policy and Complex Systems is a new open access journal to be published twice a year, promoting professional and public understanding of the relationship between policy studies and complex systems thinking. The peer-reviewed journal provides a platform whereby researchers, policy makers, experts in relevant disciplines, and modelers can join together to offer scientifically valid, and societally appropriate, solutions to challenging problems facing the world today, from the perspective of systems and complexity science. The first Table of Contents includes titles such as “The Price of Big Science: Saturation or Abundance in Scientific Publication?” To learn more about this journal, and other open access publications please visit the website: http://www.ipsonet.org/publications/open-access


Dynamics of Resilient Socio-Economic Systems -– Summer School August 2014 (March 24, 2014)

For the first time, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands is offering a summer school in August 2014. System Dyanmics Society members Etiënne Rouwette and Andreas Größler are offering a course on Dynamics of Resilient Socio-Economic Systems. The target group for this one-week course are advanced undergraduate or graduate students interested in this topic. The course includes an introduction to System Dynamics. However, if a substantial number of people with pre-knowledge of System Dynamics attends, an advanced thread will work on research oriented topics. The course will run from 3-8 August 2014.

General information about the summer school can be found at http://www.ru.nl/radboudsummerschool/
Specific information about our course can be found at http://www.ru.nl/radboudsummerschool/co .. resilient/

Students can gain 2 EC points when successfully finishing the course.

Description: Financial crises, natural disasters, man-made conflicts, logistical problems and fraudulent behavior pose great risks to companies and not-for-profit organizations. How can organizations survive in such turbulent environments? How can organizations fulfil their tasks if its members are bounded rational? How can an organization compensate for setbacks? And how is it that some organizations even seem to benefit from problems? This course attempts to answer these questions. You will design and run simplified versions of these organizations and analyze what they need to endure environmental setbacks. In addition to providing some theoretical input, this course will also emphasize a hands-on approach and creating what has been called “resilient” organizational structures with the help of computer modelling and simulation.

This topic will be approached from a dynamic perspective, in which resilience means that dynamic equilibria exist (e.g. a company’s ability to balance its newly hired and its leaving employees) and that oscillations are within the system’s span of control of the system (e.g. the tasks a person can effectively handle and on which they always rely). Modeling and simulation will be used as the primary forms of investigation. On the one hand, we will learn how to create the archetypal structures of resilient systems. On the other hand, we will use pre-developed simulators to study the effects of dynamic adaptive systems in action. With the help of these models and simulators we will investigate the effects of organizational policies on pre-defined performance indicators.

We will introduce System Dynamics as a modeling and simulation method and apply this method to a hot topic in the organizational and political debate: How can we build resilient systems that can cope with complexity, uncertainty and change? This practical course with a theoretical foundation will give you the opportunity to practice hands-on model building and simulation. You will also evaluate structures and policies to improve the level of organizational resilience.


New article in the Special Issue Systems Education for a Sustainable Planet: “The Design of Educational Programs in System Dynamics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute” (March 24, 2014)

Educational programs leading to degrees in System Dynamics are rare and thus of critical importance to the future of the field of System Dynamics. However, to a large extent such programs have not yet been made transparent to the System Dynamics community as a whole. The present article describes the design and rationale for undergraduate and graduate programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The goal of the article is to invite feedback from the System Dynamics community about our specific programs as well as to facilitate wider discussion about the appropriate content, design, and pedagogy of degree programs and courses in System Dynamics. The authors of this open access paper are System Dynamics Society members Oleg V. Pavlov, James K. Doyle, Khalid Saeed, James M. Lyneis, and Michael J. Radzicki. Guest Co-editor of this special issue is System Dynamics Society member Robert Y. Cavana.

http://www.mdpi.com/2079-8954/2/1/54/ Systems 2014, 2(1), 54-76; doi:10.3390/systems2010054 (doi registration under processing)



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The System Dynamics Newsletter is published by the System Dynamics Society.
Editors: Robin Langer, LouAnne Lundgren, Weijia Ran, Rochel Rubin, Erin Sheehan, and Roberta L. Spencer