Call for Abstracts for the WOSC 2017 Congress

Join the conversation about social dynamics from a cyber-systemic perspective at the 17th Congress of World Organization of Systems and Cybernetics in Rome, Italy, January 25-27, 2017. The conference, themed “Think outside the box with System Dynamics,” will be hosted by the Department of Management, Faculty of Economics, at Sapienza University of Rome.

Although submissions have closed, we hope that our fellow system dynamicists from around the world will join us. To learn more please visit this website.


Bibliography News

The latest version of the System Dynamics Bibliography is now online.

There are four options to download the Bibliography, with descriptions and instructions. The files are large so that they must first be saved and then opened. If you have difficulty using any of the options please let us know by email: office@systemdynamics.org.

We continue to look at the reference numbers in the Bibliography over the past 15 years. In 2006, there were 7,951 items. By 2011, there were 9,868. When the ‘2016c’ version is uploaded, the number of references will be over 11,500! 

As always, the most recently submitted journal articles can be found on the Bibliographic Updates page. Please send us your references to help us grow our Bibliography and keep it as up to date as possible.


Michael Goodman
David Peter Stroh
Systems Thinking Concepts
September 19, 2016

In September, world-renowned experts Michael Goodman and David Peter Stroh held a course that explored the applications, practice and theory of systems thinking. This six-class course taught participants how to use and apply the core tools and frameworks of systems thinking including the iceberg, causal loop diagrams, system archetypes, systems mapping, and mental models. The first class, “Overview and Systems Thinking for Change,” was held on September 30, 2016. The topics covered in this class were the history of systems thinking, why good intentions are not enough, differences between conventional and systems thinking, and why systems thinking catalyzes change.

Climate Interactive’s World Climate Simulation October 9th-16th
September 16, 2016

From October 9th-16th, people from across the globe came together for World Climate Week to build awareness about climate change. Climate Interactive encouraged participation in this movement and engaged people by facilitating a mock-UN climate negotiation a month before the actual COP 22 climate talks. The System Dynamics model and online simulation behind the negotiation was built by a large team of long time SDS members, including John Sterman, Andrew Jones, Tom Fiddaman, and Michael Bean. Since the UN climate agreement was signed in Paris last December, Climate Interactive’s simulation of UN Climate talks has become an important tool for promoting understanding and encouraging action. Using the online simulation, a group of volunteer World Climate Ambassadors and Facilitators planned over 50 events involving over 5,000 participants. Please visit the Climate Interactive website for detailed information about World Climate Simulations and to access the free resources and materials to plan an event.


Using System Dynamics Techniques to Analyze the Convergence of Environmental and Energy Issues
September 15, 2016

In the article “Retooling regulation: Clean air and clean energy demands an integrated oversight regime” by Kenneth Colburn and Chris James of the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), the authors discuss integrating energy and environmental regulations and the problems that arise. Author Kenneth A. Colburn, Principal, U.S. Programs at the Regulatory Assistance Project says “I am by no means an expert on System Dynamics modeling, but I have been involved with one or two such efforts, during which I gained immense respect for the capabilities and promise of System Dynamics analysis and modeling techniques.” The article, posted on the website Utility Drive, states “Specifically, RAP is developing a model process we’ve dubbed “E-Merge” to meld best principles from energy planning, such as long-term reviews of what energy resources are needed and most cost-effective, with environmental improvement more aligned to how people breathe and businesses operate.” The full article, the first of a four part series, can be read on the Utility Dive website.


SD Model for New Mexico
September 6, 2016

New Mexico’s Water Resources Research Institute, Tetra Tech and the University of New Mexico, along with other affiliates, have completed the first version of a Dynamic Statewide Water Budget Model. Society member Len Malczynski notes “System Dynamics is a great fit for hydrologic modeling. This is an excellent example of model meets interface to form a useful application.” The goal of this model, as described on their website, “is to provide a consolidated account of all of the historical trends and to forecast future trends of New Mexico’s water resources in an easily accessible format. This is done through the use of stocks and flows. Stocks are the given amount of water in one area at a time. Flows are the movement of water between these stocks.” The functionality of model used in this project will continue to be improved as they transition into the third year. It is currently available for anyone to use. To learn more about this project and the model used, read the full article on the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute website.


Call for Papers for the Asia-Pacific Region System Dynamics Conference
September 1, 2016

The 2nd Asia-Pacific Region System Dynamics Conference of the System Dynamics Society will be hosted by National University of Singapore on February 19-22, 2017. The conference committee is now accepting paper submissions. The deadline for paper submissions and workshop proposals is set for November 3, 2016. This year’s conference will emphasize the public policy issues relating to sustainability, resilience, and human well-being of particular relevance to the region. Because of the Residential College 4’s sponsorship role, emphasis will also be given to the effective teaching of systems thinking and System Dynamics modeling as a part of general education curricula for upper level secondary school and for first and second year undergraduate students. Visit the Asia-Pacific Region Conference web page for detailed information.


System Dynamics in Dresden
August 31, 2016

Jay W. Forrester and his work in the field of System Dynamics have provided inspiration for many. In a letter published last August on the MIT Technology Review website, system dynamicist Ralf Lippold recalls his brief meeting with Professor Forrester, “At the MIT workshop we discussed learning to see the connections within the larger social field and how they are embedded in existing feedback systems. What still sticks in my mind from my short chat with Jay is his saying, ‘Don’t fear objection by others—in the end, you learn for yourself!’ With a personal dream to establish a System Dynamics Institute here in Dresden, I recently initiated Dresden U.Lab Hub and X Prize Think Tank Dresden, hoping that both may work as door openers into an uncharted yet fascinating future. As Jay observed, one should always go through doors that look like an interesting opportunity!” In a blog post titled When Dynamic Complexity Drives a Dream: A Team Action Lea(r)ning —A Journey into the Future, Ralf discusses the proposal that was inspired by his past meeting with Professor Forrester. The proposal, initially a ‘Google 10^100 Project’ proposal, aims to revive the former economic strength of the region around Dresden and Saxony. It was the core of this proposal that Ralf had used as a starting point for change in what is now, after several prototypes, the “Citizen Science Lab,” a System Dynamics action research institute. His ultimate vision is “to grow people inside their area of living towards their strengths so they can build up an economy that is sustainable and much more resilient to the crisis that we face right now.” See the blog post to read more about the proposal and a list of steps documenting the progress that has been made thus far.


Call for Papers for both the 2017 Conference and special issue of the System Dynamics Review
August 29, 2016

In 2017 the System Dynamics Society will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the field of System Dynamics. In honor of the 60th anniversary, there will be a special issue of the System Dynamics Review. This issue will feature work that speaks to the future of the field. At the 35th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society we will celebrate the accomplishments of the past six decades and explore the future directions by showcasing the best work in dynamic modeling being done today. The 2017 conference will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts next to the MIT campus – the very place where Jay Forrester developed the field. System Dynamics has expanded across the globe – from K-12 classrooms through doctoral programs, in research and in applications in a multitude of disciplines – progressing immensely as technology grew. We reflected upon this growth in 2007 as we celebrated the first 50 years of the field of System Dynamics, and now, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary, we look ahead to all the potential opportunities in store for the next half century. We hope you will take part in the events of this special anniversary! View the conference Call for Papers for information and a list of the important dates and also the Call for Papers for the special issue of System Dynamics Review. Share this printable Power Point presentation with fellow dynamics modelers, system dynamicists and students.


The 9th Annual ARCS Research Conference, June 2017
August 10, 2016

Information on a conference of potential interest to those using System Dynamics in sustainability contexts: The Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) will bring together scholars from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives interested in advancing research on corporate sustainability. The 9th Annual ARCS Research Conference will be held June 14-16, 2017 at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, the Netherlands. The conference welcomes unpublished working papers focused on business and sustainability from all disciplines and research areas. The deadline for submitting papers is November 28, 2016, see the Call for Papers announcement for guidelines and additional information.


Last Call for Abstracts for the South Africa Chapter Annual SD Conference
August 09, 2016

The 4th Annual System Dynamics Conference for the South Africa Chapter will be held on November 17-18, 2016, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The SASD Chapter and ESKOM, hosts of the conference themed Facilitating Just Transitions, invite the submission of extended abstracts that entail a diversity of domains, disciplines and stakeholders. For additional information and inquiries about submitting a paper, please email info@systemdynamics.org.za.


Call for Papers: Special Issue of the System Dynamics Review
August 01, 2016

From Guest Editors Nelson Repenning and John Sterman (MIT Sloan School of Management): The special issue of the System Dynamics Review will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the field. The field of system dynamics was founded by Jay Forrester 60 years ago. The 2017 conference of the System Dynamics Society will celebrate this milestone and, in conjunction, the System Dynamics Review seeks contributions for a special issue commemorating this anniversary. Whereas the 50th anniversary special issue celebrated the achievements of the field in its first half-century, for the 60th anniversary special issue we seek papers that look forward to the next 50 years. We particularly welcome work that provides new approaches to important theoretical and methodological issues, application areas, modeling practice, education, empirical methods and integration of different approaches to modeling the dynamics of complex systems. We also encourage descriptions of exemplary applications and other developments that explore important paths for the future of the field, including the integration of dynamic modeling with modern approaches to data analytics, parameter estimation, machine learning and optimization, and the integration of system dynamics with new developments in economics, political science, psychology, sociology and other disciplines. Inquiries about proposed papers are welcome; the guest editors will provide feedback on proposals. A 2-stage procedure will be followed. Initially authors are requested to submit an extended abstract (2 pages maximum). These will then be reviewed by the editors and selected authors will be invited to submit a full paper, which will go through normal peer review. Inquiries and extended abstracts should be directed to the editors for the special issue at SD60th@mit.edu. Final papers should follow the journal’s Guidelines for each category of contribution and transmitted via the System Dynamics Review online submission system. The full Call for Papers is available online.


Using System Dynamics to Analyze Social Networks and Messaging Apps
July 27, 2016

In his blog post titled “The MIT way to spot unicorns with mad cow disease,” Technology Executive and Strategy Consultant Pieter Nel discusses how he is successfully using System Dynamics to analyze social networks and messaging apps. Looking to make a prediction about the path of tech companies and mobile social networks, Nel, the former CTO of the mobile instant messaging company Mxit, enrolled as a Sloan Fellow at MIT. Nel created a model that simulated retention of users on a social networking platform, “If you think of a bucket leaking water, the active users would be the water in the bucket (the stock), and the leaks would be users/month churning out (the flow).” He goes on to explain that “…the rate of the leak is dependent on the remaining amount of water in the bucket. As the water empties, the leak weakens. This is the “dynamic” nature of system dynamics and in a complex system with many such interconnected “buckets” it leads to non-linear effects which are impossible to anticipate unless you model them.” In the post, Nel also discusses how fast users are acquired in the Bass diffusion model and how long they stay using Little’s Law. Nel’s models have accurately depicted outcomes, catching the attention of leading tech analysts. Please visit Pieter Nel’s blog post to read more about his use of System Dynamics.


Call for Abstracts for the WOSC 2017 Congress
July 25, 2016

Join the conversations about social dynamics from a cyber-systemic perspective at the 17th Congress of World Organisation of Systems and Cybernetics in Rome, Italy, January 25-27, 2017. The conference, themed “Think outside the box with System Dynamics,” will be hosted by the Department of Management, Faculty of Economics, at Sapienza University of Rome. For more information about the WOSC 2017 Congress, including abstract submission guidelines and conference registration, please visit the WOSC website.


High School Students Use System Dynamics to Tackle Gun Violence at the Changing Systems Student Summit at Washington University in St. Louis
July 20, 2016

From June 28 through July 1, 2016, the second annual Changing Systems Student Summit brought together dozens of high school students from surrounding communities to discuss how System Dynamics can be used to change the cycle of gun violence. This summit, a part of Washington University’s yearlong initiative “Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis,” was sponsored by the Brown School’s Ferguson Seed Fund and Social System Design Laboratory and the Institute for Public Health, all a part of Washington University in St. Louis. A news article on Washington University’s website states “The summit considered gun violence through a program designed, led and facilitated by 15 interns from Ritenour and Jennings high schools trained in system dynamics, a method of modeling complex problems. They in turn worked with 28 high school students representing 19 schools in St. Louis city and county. The high school facilitators engaged their peers in scripted activities to map out the underlying system structure that leads to gun violence in St. Louis. Specifically, they focused on the cycles that perpetuate gun violence to identify ways to restructure the system.” The results of their research was shared with the community, regional leaders and members of the Brown School. Students who participated will continue to work on this issue. Read more about the Changing Systems Student Summit and the work they are doing in the full article.


isee systems releases Stella Architect
July 13, 2016

Last month isee systems announced the release of their new model building program Stella Architect. As stated in the press release, “Stella Architect’s design and publishing capabilities create attractive, engaging, widely shareable models and simulations. “For Stella models to reach an audience and deliver insight, they must engage users, even those with little Systems Thinking or modelling experience,” says Karim Chichakly, co-President isee systems. “Quickly creating and sharing compelling simulations is what Stella Architect is all about.” Stella Architect includes all the functionality of Stella Professional and adds enhanced design and publishing capabilities. “Stella Architect lets System Thinkers go from concept to a full-fledged web experience very simply and effectively,” says Bob Eberlein, co-President isee systems.” Detailed information can be found in the full press release.


System Dynamics Used in Predicting Population with Alzheimer’s Disease in the EU
July 5, 2016

The article “Prediction of population with Alzheimer’s disease in the European Union using a System Dynamics model” was published by Dove Press in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. The article is the work of Hana Tomaskova, Jitka Kuhnova, Richard Cimler, Ondrej Dolezal and Kamil Kuca, of the University of Hradec Králové in the Czech Republic. In this research, the simulation software STELLA was used with population data from Eurostat to create the model. As stated in the article, “System Dynamics modeling approach has been used for the prediction of the number of patients with AD in the EU population till the year 2080. These results can be used to determine the economic burden of the treatment of these patients. With different input data, the simulation can be used also for the different regions as well as for different noncontagious disease predictions.” The full article is available online at Dove Press.


Announcing the Call for Papers for Journal of Simulation
June 28, 2016

The Journal of Simulation announced a call for papers for a special issue on the topic of System Dynamics. As described on their web page, "The journal provides a single source of accessible research and practice in the fast developing field of discrete-event simulation, System Dynamics and agent-based modelling.” Martin Kunc, Sally Brailsford and member John Morecroft have been selected as guest editors of this special issue. The announcement stated “the journal is interested in submissions that discuss: mode conceptualization, model development and testing, policy development, and other areas.” The deadline for submission is March 31st, 2017. Specific information on submission guidelines and dates can be found on the call for papers.


AnyLogic’s Simulation and Modeling Software Selected by Ford Motor Company
June 21, 2016

An article in the web based news Virtual Strategy Magazine, June 2016, shared that the Ford Motor Company chose AnyLogic software to model real world concepts in a virtual setting to gain insight from global data and analytics. As noted in the article, “Simulation modeling is a tool that allows organizations to model the real world in a virtual environment; look at systems from a clearer viewpoint, and run what-if scenarios of proposed variations without disruptions to the current system. AnyLogic’s unique multi-method capabilities enable system dynamics, agent-based, and discrete-event modeling in one modeling environment for a more accurate representation of the real system.” To learn more, please see the full article in Virtual Strategy Magazine.


Report on Impact Factor for the System Dynamics Review
June 20, 2016

In June, Thomson Reuters published their Journal Citation Reports for 2015. We are pleased to announce that the Impact Factor for System Dynamics Review has risen by 34% from 1.026 to 1.37. The journal has now moved up in position in its two ISI subject categories rankings. In the Management category, the journal ranks 91st out of 192 titles, and the journal is 20th out of 49 titles in the Social Sciences, Mathematical Methods category. Yaman Barlas, Executive Editor of the System Dynamics Review, notes “These numbers reflect that the journal is moving in the right direction, thanks to my predecessor Rogelio Oliva and the editorial team.”


Education Innovation from a System Thinking Perspective and an Indigenous Worldview
June 8, 2016

The Walking with the Sun project has the objective of promoting an Educative Innovation from a system thinking (ST) perspective and an indigenous worldview. The core of the project is the elaboration of a trilingual book (Odhame, Rarámuri and Spanish) about intercultural education, complementary to the formal plan of the Mexican Education Ministry. The book is composed of didactic exercises created using a ST methodology called TRIZ (Theory of inventive problem solving). This project has two overall goals: 1) making contribution for rethinking and performing school activities in a more creative way from a learning and cultural reassessment perspective and 2) becoming a tool replicable in other communities in Mexico or Latin America.

The research team piloted the didactic material with kids from the Tarahumara mountain range, Chihuahua, Mexico. Playing, singing and imagining are considered key pedagogic assets, by doing so kids are able to incorporate their own way of being in their daily school activities. Accordingly, this project acknowledged their laughs and jokes as part of the kids learning process, potentiating their intelligence and curiosity, but more important, allowing a cognitive channel where their environment knowledge, themselves and their community realization take a fundamental place in their education.

For more information, including how to support the project, or to get in touch with the research team, please visit our webpage or write an email to us.

This project is opening a new working area for the research team, which explores the links between system thinking and indigenous worldviews for a sustainability education. Research centers, professors or similar projects references or suggestions are sought within our community to explore further collaborations.


Climate Interactive’s Elizabeth Sawin Gives Keynote Honoring Her Mentor, Donella Meadows
June 3, 2016

On May 19, 2016, at the Leadership Upper Valley Heroes & Leaders event, Elizabeth Sawin gave a keynote speech about her mentor Donella Meadows. Sawin, Co-Director of the Climate Interactive, spoke about learning the process of mentoring from Donella (Dana) Meadows, who was her mentor from 1995-2001.

A blog post by Shanna Edberg on the Climate Interactive’s website featured the list of the six traits of mentorship highlighted in Elizabeth Sawin’s speech. “Donella Meadows influenced so much about my life, especially where I live and the work that I do. In reflecting on how it is that she had such a significant impact, I realized that there were six habits and attitudes that she cultivated that made her a powerful influence not just on me, but on hundreds of other people.” The full post can be viewed on the Climate Interactive website.


Ventity Beta
June 3, 2016

At the System Dynamics conference this summer, Vensim's companion, Ventity was introduced and taught.

What’s new and different about Ventity? The really big change from most simulation languages is that we've replaced arrays with lists of entities, identified by attributes. This makes for a more natural and data-friendly problem description. Detail becomes a property of entities, not equations, which makes it a lot easier to coordinate and change.

Entities are modular, so they're easier to reuse and share among teams. Entities can be created and deleted dynamically, so there's no need to simulate a lot of zeroes for things that haven't happened yet. Similarly, a list of entity relationships can represent a sparse matrix, so there's no need to clutter your model with zeroes for project phases that aren't prerequisites or relationships that don't exist among people. All this happens in a development environment with modern, interactive charts and windowing.

Two examples:

A consumer products firm would like to model a portfolio of products across many regional markets, distribution channels, brands and package sizes. Not all of the brands are present in each market, and package options differ for each brand. In traditional SD, it takes a lot of data work to standardize things to work with arrays. With entities, it's easy - we create a Product entity identified by an SKU, with Market, Channel, Brand and Package attributes, and we simply don't bother to create combinations that don't exist. Later, when new products launch, we can add them to the model on the fly.

A health care provider would like to understand the diffusion of information about treatments through the social network of doctors. Doctors don't know every other doctor, but they're sparsely related through common practices, specialties and patient referrals. We can explore this as a full agent model, or a semi-aggregate model, in which information is well-mixed within organizations.

We're already working with these models Ventity, and its entity lists are much easier to work with than arrays. We're now testing time series data input and optimization for model calibration. We expect the next major beta release to include these capabilities, at which point we’ll be able to tackle a wide variety of industrial-strength work. This is exciting, yet we think we're just scratching the surface of what's possible.

That said, there are still some things that Vensim is really good at, like extreme speed, advanced algorithms and data connectivity, so we're continuing its development in parallel. We expect it to continue to be the premiere platform for dynamics for a long time.

For more information, please see the registration request, or visit Ventana Systems UK Forum for discussions on the topic of Ventity beta. Learn more in the video demonstration “Getting Started with Ventity.”


Vensim 6.4 Released
June 2, 2016

Vensim 6.4 is available for download or purchase in the Vensim store.

Upgrades are easy – just visit Vensim’s website, hit the Download Licensed Software button, and enter your license key information.

PLE is always free for educational use, and the Model Reader is free for redistribution of any model. Click here for the free downloads.

6.4 has a number of upgrades including optimization and sensitivity simulation improvements and data import/export new functionality. It includes some new features, including improved dialogs and new data formats for both import and export. We’ve also made internal changes to support faster simulation, cross-platform compatibility and 64-bit operation.


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The System Dynamics Newsletter is published by the System Dynamics Society.
Editors: Babak Bahaddin, Carrie Stickan, Erin Sheehan, LouAnne Lundgren, Roberta L. Spencer, and Robin Langer.