Professor Khalid Saeed Discusses the System Dynamics Approach to Economics (June 10, 2015)

In his most recent paper, “Jay Forrester’s operational approach to economics,” (System Dynamics Review Volume 30, Issue 4) Khalid Saeed discusses the importance of Forrester’s contribution to the field. Instead of focusing on rational agency, Forrester bases his economic models on managerial roles and policies that relate to everyday decisions. Saeed believes that System Dynamics does not have a specific take on economics, saying that it is a neutral methodology that can be used to model any concept. The paper is not about one specific model built by Forrester, but instead explains how his approach is different from mainstream economic practices. Economists wishing to operationalize the field, managers and policy makers dealing with firms, regions and nations, and those wishing to learn about Forrester’s work in general will all find the paper to be worth the read! Please watch the video as Professor Saeed talks about this work.

Beer Game at Technical Univeristy of Denmark

During the 28th and 29th of May, a System Dynamics workshop was held at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), located in Lyngby, north of Copenhagen. In this activity, the classic beer game was played, and the assistants got the chance of experiencing the need for understanding structure which drives nonlinear behavior. Additionally, lectures and group activities introduced PhD students and researchers from DTU and the University of Aalborg to the basic tools for systems thinking and System Dynamics modeling. The sessions were led by Prof. Christian Erik Kampmann, MIT PhD and professor of the Copenhagen Business School, Prof. Josef Oehmen, PhD and professor from the Department of Management Engineering at DTU, as well as Daniel Sepulveda, System Dynamics Society member and PhD student at DTU.

The Creative Learning Exchange (CLE) Hosts DynamiQueST again at WPI
(June 03, 2015)

The CLE and the Boston Area Systems Thinking Educators put on the eighth DynamiQueST, an exposition of K-12 student learning on Friday, May 29th with the support of the WPI System Dynamics Program. The day featured 21 students presenting projects to expert system dynamicists and knowledgeable K-12 teachers as well as their peers. A rendition of the Infection Game (see CLE website) was run with liquid in cups for the whole group and the afternoon session featured a guided group discussion run by a dear friend of K-12, George Richardson, featuring a NY Times article about the unintended consequences of the distribution of mosquito nets to prevent malaria.

Innovation Academy, a school with System Dynamics in their charter, brought multiple groups of students and was joined by students from the Lawrence Elementary (K-8) School in Brookline, MA. The project titles included: Fish Banks Policy Project, Population Growth and Energy Efficient Innovation; The Simplicity of Catapults, A Taste of Hollywood: Expressing Character Development and Theme with the Support of Systems Thinking Tools; American Revolution: Causes and Reflections; Systems of Rome; Rocket Modeling Project; and Solar Oven Modeling Project.

The Brown School Social System Design Lab Will Host the Changing Systems Student Summit on Racism in June (May 29, 2015)

The Brown School’s Social System Design Lab (SSDL) at Washington University in St. Louis is hosting a 3-day Student Summit that will use systems thinking/System Dynamics tools to address issues pertaining to structural racism in the St. Louis region. The Summit will bring together approximately 120 students from over 14 local school districts to engage in conversations about how to create social change from a systems perspective. The event is being designed and led by a group of 12 high school interns at the the Brown School’s SSDL. Megan Odenthal will be the Program Coordinator for this initiative. Megan is a graduate of the Brown School MSW program with the System Dynamics Specialization and Gephardt Civic Scholar with a background in youth development. The Changing Systems Student Summit on Racism in June is the result of longstanding commitments in St. Louis to systems thinking by the Waters Foundation, Ritenour School District, and the Boeing Company.

Otto Scharmer Awarded the Jamieson Teaching Award (May 05, 2015)

Otto Scharmer has been awarded the Jamieson Teaching Award at MIT Sloan. The Jamieson Award is the highest teaching award at MIT Sloan, and was established to honor educational innovation and excellence. Otto works closely with people in the System Dynamics community. Besides pioneering important methods to complement and enhance the effectiveness of System Dynamics tools, Otto has also used a variety of System Dynamics models in his work including C-ROADS and the World Climate role-playing simulation based exercise developed by Climate Interactive. Otto is receiving the Jamieson Prize for two decades of dedication to pedagogical innovation at Sloan, with impact extending across the School and beyond to the Institute. Congratulations Otto!

Fifth-year Anniversary of the First SD Class at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (May 05, 2015)

To celebrate the fifth-year anniversary of the first module (class) in Dynamic Modeling of Public Policy Systems, at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, John Richardson’s students will be giving “final examination” presentations describing their original model-based projects. Presentations are given using the “Pecha Kucha” format (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, 6 min 40 seconds) first introduced by a community of architects in Japan.  As in recent past years, they will be acknowledging their achievements with presentations to a wider audience, comprising not only National University of Singapore faculty and students, but also members of the wider Singapore Community.  This will also mark the completion of the module by more than 100 students from Singapore, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Pakistan and the many other nations that the Lee Kuan Yew School serves. Most students will return to or embark on careers as public policy professionals.

What does the module in the Dynamic Modeling of Public Policy Systems entail? Students are expected to define a policy relevant problem and craft a System Dynamics model that addresses it. After rigorous validity and robustness testing, the model is used to diagnose the problem and point to policy recommendations. These must be accessible and compelling to potential clients with no background in dynamic systems modeling. These final oral presentations, backed up with written reports and documentation, provide class members with the opportunity to demonstrate the level of mastery in public policy modeling that they have attained.

Mississippi State University Receives Grant From USDA for SD Modeling (April 27, 2015)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced three research grants totaling almost $3 million that are designed to boost food security by minimizing livestock losses to insects and diseases. The awards to support research, education, and extension efforts were made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Mississippi State University has been awarded $47,464 to create a portable computer and communication center for training veterinary students, graduate students, practicing veterinarians, and other food production stakeholders to use System Dynamics modeling, other forms of stochastic and deterministic modeling and health data management or analysis software to protect livestock from pests and disease.

Martin Kunc Awarded the Geoff Coyle Medal (April 16, 2015)

The Geoff Coyle Medal was awarded to Dr. Martin Kunc at the International System Dynamics Society UK Chapter Conference on March 26, 2015. The Geoff Coyle Medal is a new prize, awarded for innovative System Dynamics work in the UK.  Since Geoff Coyle had encouraged early career developments in System Dynamics, this forms the scope of the prize for either research or practice. The award recognizes Martin’s major contributions in terms of introducing System Dynamics to a wide number of people and a new area of management research within his first 10 years of using System Dynamics. Dr. Martin Kunc is Associate Professor of Operational Research and Management Science at Warwick Business School (WBS). The main contribution of his research has been to embed the use of System Dynamics into one of the main streams in the strategic management field: the Resource-Based View of the firm to which he has brought a behavioral and cognitive perspective. He has organized the Strategy stream in several diverse conferences: International System Dynamics Conference, Operational Research Society, International Federation of Operational Research Societies and European Academy of Management for the last five years, and has recently taken the role of System Dynamics co-chair in the merged Simulation Interest Group in the OR Society. Martin has taught at all levels at Warwick from undergraduate, postgraduate (taught and research) and executive education.  He has supervised four PhDs to completion, acting as first supervisor, as well as many MBA student dissertations. Prior to joining WBS he was a consultant at Arthur Andersen, and then an independent consultant with projects in media, the pharmaceutical industry, financial services, consumer goods, and the cement and wine industries.

David F. Andersen Awarded Distinguished Service Award (May 15, 2015)

David F. Andersen PhD, Distinguished Service Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and Associate Dean of the University at Albany College of Computing and Information, was recognized with the College’s Distinguished Service Award on May 15, 2015. This Award recognizes David’s contributions during his thirty-eight years of affiliation with the College and University in both scholarship and service. While David is well known to the field of System Dynamics through his leadership in the System Dynamics Society, including his service as a founding member, Past President, and current Vice President Finance of the Society, he is an important leader at the University at Albany as well. Professor Andersen’s current work centers on evaluating the cost and performance characteristics of information systems and decision support systems in the public sector. His recent work has focused on the use of formal computer-based tools and models to help groups understand the system-wide impacts of information and decision support systems. His consulting and research activities include assembling and managing research and consulting teams to address a wide variety of public policy problems with clients in the public and private sectors. Prof. Andersen is the co-author of Introduction to Computer Simulation: The System Dynamics Modeling Approach and Government Information Management as well as over eighty other edited volumes, journal articles, and book chapters dealing with System Dynamics, public policy and management, and information systems. He is a recipient of the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best published work in System Dynamics. The faculty and staff of the College and University extend their congratulations and thanks to Professor Andersen for his manifold contributions over the last thirty-eight years. The 2015 Rockefeller College Annual Alumni & Awards Dinner was held on May 15th at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Dr. Florian Kapmeier and World Climate Inspire German Students (March 25, 2015)

C-ROADS World Climate computer simulation game was introduced by Dr. Florian Kapmeier to college students in Reutlingen University’s ESB Business School in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. In the game, students were assigned roles as United Nation delegates to negotiate, make decisions, and try to reach an agreement that aims at a minimum rise of the global temperature. According to Dr. Kapmeier, the simulation game is a much more effective way for students to learn that early action is needed compared with traditional lectures. The event was reported by Climate Interactive and a local newspaper Reutlinger General-Anzeiger in Germany.

Photo courtesy Reutlinger General-Anzeiger

Member Lukas Sihombing is now VP Construction Certification at IAMPI (March 19, 2015)

IAMPI is the Indonesia Society of Project Management Professionals. Lukas is responsible to ensure that all of the candidates who desire project management professional certification pass the examination by IAMPI. IAMPI’s project management certification is competence-based and divided to be three levels: certified practicing project practitioners, certified practicing project manager, certified practicing project director and portfolio. The relationship between IAMPI and System Dynamics in Indonesia is still developing, some project management professionals have use System Dynamics as a tool to analyze projects’ scheduling, project finance, cost, etc. It is the first organization in Indonesia to incorporate System Dynamics in project management, and it has been challenging to ensure the use of System Dynamics for construction and public policy.

New PhD at Radboud University in Nijmegen: Philipp Wunderlich (March 19, 2015)

On 13 March 2015 Philipp Wunderlich successfully defended his doctoral thesis at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. His dissertation is titled “Innovation Diffusion within Organizations – Word of mouth and the effectiveness of intra-organizational innovation implementation.” After studying Business Administration at Mannheim University, Philipp joined the System Dynamics Group at Radboud in 2011. He supported System Dynamics education, for instance in the European Master in System Dynamics programme, and presented his research at the International System Dynamics Conferences. Part of his thesis was published as: P. Wunderlich, A. Größler, N. Zimmermann, J. Vennix (2014): “Managerial Influence on the Diffusion of Innovations within Intra-organizational Networks” in System Dynamics Review 30(3), 161–185. His doctoral work was supervised by Professors Vennix and Größler. The photo shows Jac Vennix handing over the doctoral diploma to Philipp Wunderlich after his defense. In the background, the thesis committee (from left to right): Andreas Größler, Ad van Deemen, Peter Milling, David Lane, Kristina Lauche, Etienne Rouwette, and Nicole Zimmermann (present but not pictured). Congratulations Philipp!

Member David Keith Participates in “Innovations in Energy and Mobility Affecting the Future of Our Cities” (March 13, 2015)

“Innovations in Energy and Mobility Affecting the Future of Our Cities,” hosted by Iceland Naturally, MIT Media Lab, and City Science Initiative, is one of the events that took place at the Taste of Iceland Festival in Boston on March 12. The discussion was a city-to-city dialogue about energy innovation centered on Boston and Reykjavik’s efforts to innovate energy for a better future. Among the speakers was David Keith, System Dynamics Society member and assistant professor of System Dynamics at MIT. Other speakers included Dagur B. Eggertsson, Reykjavik’s mayor, and Vineet Gupta, director of Planning for Boston Transportation.

Member Etiënne Rouwette Appointed as a Full Professor (March 06, 2015)

On March 1st of this year Etiënne Rouwette was appointed as a Full Professor of Research and Intervention Methodology. He will be Chair of the Methodology and System Dynamics Group of the Nijmegen School of Management, which will continue the strong future presence of System Dynamics in Nijmegen. Future plans include the continuation of the work in Group Model Building (GMB) and Facilitated Modelling, the development of the Nijmegen Decision Lab, and the further advancement of the European Master Program in System Dynamics together with Andreas Grössler. Etiënne received his PhD from Radboud University in 2003. He has been teaching System Dynamics and Group Model Building since 1995. He conducted many GMB projects for a wide variety of organizations. In his research he focuses on the systematic, empirical assessment of GMB interventions and the further development of scripts for GMB. Etiënne has a long history of volunteering for the System Dynamics Society (e.g. Policy Council Member, Conference Host of the European SD Workshop in 2005, Organizing Chair of ISDC 2006 in Nijmegen, Co-program Chair ISDC 2014, and VP of Membership) . He is currently President Elect. Congratulations to Etiënne and good luck on behalf of the Society!

World Climate Game, Developed by Climate Interactive and MIT SD Group, Featured in ScienceInsider (March 06, 2015)

The magazine for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ScienceInsider, published an article about World Climate, a game co-developed by the nonprofit Climate Interactive and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology System Dynamics Group. A colleague of the Group, Juliette Rooney-Varge (Director of Climate Change Initiative at UMass), ran the game at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this past fall. The game, which simulates international climate change negotiations, was created in 2010. It is to U.N. climate negotiations what Model U.N. is to the real thing: a chance for outsiders to get a glimpse of what it takes to hammer out a consensus on a thorny international issue. After the game, Rooney-Varga gathered the group to debrief. “It wasn’t obvious until we did this exercise just how strong the change needs to be…” said Lev Horodyskyj, an astrobiologist at Arizona State University, Tempe. Organizers said that the goal of the game is to inspire, not terrify. Mitigating climate change is an enormous task, but it’s not impossible; and it won’t be resolved without teamwork. “The key insights are that you need everybody to act,” Rooney-Varga said. “It’s all in.”

NASPAA’s First National Student Simulation Competition Uses a System Dynamics Simulator (March 04, 2015)

Photos taken by George P. Richardson

The National Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) conducted its first-ever National Student Simulation Competition, “Creating a Locally-Led ‘Bottom Up’ Reform to the Affordable Care Act” on February 28, 2015. The daylong event brought together about 200 students from 93 NASPAA member graduate schools to five regional locations across the country to analyze the delivery of health care service at the local level. Participants presented their solutions to a national panel of judges. The competition featured ReThink Health Dynamics Model, a System Dynamics simulation model, which enables students to think dynamically and over long time horizons to identify sustainable solutions to health care problems. Participants ran more than 4,400 different simulation runs using a Forio user interface that worked flawlessly. According to Laurel McFarland, NASPAA Executive Director, “This competition demonstrates the tremendous learning opportunities gained by using simulations to immerse students in situations where they are able to immediately see the complexities and systemic aspects of public policy and management challenges.” Bobby Milstein, Director of ReThink Health wrote “It was a thrill to hear the insights from each regional winner about where the real leverage may lie in shaping sound health policy. These teams displayed a mix of curiosity, skill, and moral clarity that bodes well for effective action on this critical national challenge. I was also amazed that students from different schools could instantly work so well together and accomplish so much in a single day. . . . Hopefully, we’ll look back on this as an important landmark both for educational methodology and for the U.S. health reform movement. ”

Discover Magazine's Blog Posts Article by Members Richard Larson, Navid Ghaffarzadegen, and Yi Xue (March 02, 2015)

A Discover magazine blog posted a new article titled “Does Science Produce Too Many PhD Graduates?” The post reflects on a 2014 paper published in System Research and Behavioral Science by Richard Larson, Navid Ghaffarzadegan, and Yi Xue. The original published paper which is titled “Too Many PhD Graduates or Too Few Academic Job Openings: The Basic Reproductive Number R0 in Academia” analyzes the growth in population of PhDs in academia. A follow-on article by the same group of researchers uncovers structural reasons and systemic flaws of science workforce development in the US.

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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