Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council of the System Dynamics Society

20 July 1998

Québec City, Canada

In Attendance.


David F. Andersen (Vice President - Finance), Yaman Barlas (President), Robert L. Eberlein (Vice President - Meetings), Alexander L. Pugh, III (President Elect), Michael J. Radzicki (Secretary), George P. Richardson (Past President), Eric Wolstenholme (Vice President - Publications)

Policy Council:

Isaac Dyner, David Ford, Jay W. Forrester (Founding President), Frank Maier, Magne Myrtveit, Anjali Sastry, Showing Young


Paal Davidsen, Nathan Forrester, Saburo Kameyama, Nan Lux, James M. Lyneis, Peter Milling, John D. W. Morecroft, Rogelio Oliva, Julie Pugh, Khalid Saeed, Habib Sedehi, Roberta L. Spencer (Executive Director), John D. Sterman

1. Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order at 5:08 PM by President Barlas.

2. Informational Items.


  1. Executive Director's Report. Roberta Spencer distributed copies of her Summer 1998 Executive Director's Report and summarized its contents for the Council. In brief, all is well at the Society office. The office is now using Quick Books for its accounting and is now accepting credit cards and maintaining a web site. There has been an increase in beer game sales and Society sponsorship this year, and a 22% increase in membership. As of June 1998, Society membership stands at 605. The Executive Director is still updating the administrative calendar and has hired a part time assistant. The office has answered two inquiries into how a new Society chapter is created. The first was from a group of students in Europe who wish to form a student chapter. The second was from some Society members in Mexico.


  2. Report of the Executive Editor of the System Dynamics Review. Mike Radzicki read a report from Graham Winch, Executive Editor of the System Dynamics Review. In brief, the report stated that:


    1. the Review's article backlog is relatively healthy.


    2. volume 14(2) will be a special double issue on sustainable development.


    3. article length must be carefully monitored so that page constraints per issue agreed to with John Wiley are adhered to. In order to save space, editors have been asked to discourage the inclusion of full model listings in the final acceptances of papers.


    4. although some new people have been added to the Review's staff of associate editors, more nominations are welcome. Associate editors will continue to be listed on the Review's masthead by their institutional affiliation, rather than their area of specialization.

      A discussion then ensued about the wisdom of not publishing full model listings in the Review. A number of members pointed out that access to the full code of a model is necessary for the replication of results and that the replication of results is a hallmark of good science. Historically, the field of system dynamics has a very good record with respect to the documentation of models and the accessibility of full model code.

      Jay Forrester argued that simply relying on a statement at the bottom of a paper that says the code of a model is available from the author does not guarantee that another researcher will be able to get the exact code presented in the paper. A model's code must be attached to its published presentation and be unalterable. All model runs in a paper must be replicable. Forrester suggested that the code for each published model might be placed on a Society or Review web site.

      The discussion then turned to the issue of page extent. George Richardson pointed out that, each year, the Executive Editor must estimate for John Wiley the number of pages that will be used by the Review. As long as the Review more or less stays near this estimate, all is well. The Policy Council would only need to get involved in the issue, financially speaking, if there are substantial page overruns, unanticipated by the Executive Editor, during any given year.

      Other Council members wondered how much the annual page extent is influenced by Society membership (and hence dues and circulation size) and how much it is influenced by the price of paper (which is cyclical).


  3. Proposal to Host the 2000 System Dynamics Conference. Paal Davidsen presented a proposal from the University of Bergen, Norway, to host the 2000 System Dynamics conference. The theme of the conference will be "Sustainability in the Third Millennium" and it will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the last system dynamics conference held in Norway. Davidsen pointed out that the proposal's budget assumes that the Society's office will help with conference preparations (an in-kind payment of US$30,000) and that 180 paying persons will attend.

    The discussion that followed Davidsen's presentation centered around the budget assumptions in the proposal and the role of the Society's office in organizing the conference. The consensus was that, due to the participation of the Society's office, the way that the annual conference is organized has changed for the better. It's now more professionally run and the burden placed on volunteer conference organizers has been shifted more toward the organization of the academic program, and away from site arrangements, money collection, etc. Some Council members voiced displeasure with the proposed web proceedings and the lack of a clear picture on the amount of money, if any, the Society would make from the conference. Overall, however, the Council was pleased with Davidsen's presentation and thanked him for his efforts.


  4. Chapter Reports. Saburo Kameyama presented a report from the Japanese Chapter. He reported that the state of the Japanese Chapter is health and growing.

    Habib Sedhi presented a report from the Italian Chapter. As with the Japanese Chapter, the Italian Chapter is healthy and growing.


  5. Honorary Doctorate for Professor Jay W. Forrester. Mike Radzicki reported that Professor Forrester would received an honorary doctorate from the University of Seville for his work in system dynamics.


  6. Report of the Vice President - Finance. David Andersen presented his 1998 midterm Vice President - Finance report. Highlights of the report included:


    Budgeted Versus Actual Statement. Both actual and budgeted amounts are presented. The actual amounts are better than the budgeted amounts.


    Profit and Loss by Class Statement. The Society divides its activities into three classes: Conference, Sales, and Core Operations. Each of these centers is operating in the black.


    Balance Sheets. At first glance, the Society's balance sheets looks worse than a year ago. This is misleading because the drop in Society assets is due to the movement of the Gordon Brown Fund to the Creative Learning Exchange.

3. Action Items.


  1. George Richardson moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that the 1998 Nominating Committee consist of John D. W. Morecroft, George P. Richardson, Khalid Saeed, and Showing Young. The motion passed.

4. Discussion Items.


  1. John Sterman asked that, since the Society has a budget surplus, the Policy Council create a process for entertaining proposals for spending the money to grow the Society.


  2. Yaman Barlas alerted the Council that he would float a proposal at a future Policy Council meeting from Lou Alfeld for creating a Society accreditation process for system dynamics practitioners.

Due to the late hour, discussion of these two items was postponed to a future meeting of the Council.

5. Adjournment.

George Richardson moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that: "the meeting be adjourned." The motion passed. The meeting was adjourned at by Yaman Barlas at 6:10 PM.

Respectfully submitted.

Michael J. Radzicki