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

21 July 1998

Québec City, Canada

In Attendance.


David 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)

Policy Council:

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


Lou Alfeld, Deborah Andersen, Bob Cavana, Nathan Forrester, Usman Ghani, Saburo Kameyama, Nan Lux, Dennis Meadows, Peter Milling, John D. W. Morecroft, Rogelio Oliva, Khalid Saeed, Habib Sedehi, Roberta L. Spencer (Executive Director), John D. Sterman, Quifan Wang

1. Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order at 12:16 PM by President Barlas.

2. Informational Items.


  1. Report of the Chinese Chapter. Quifan Wang presented a report from the Chinese Chapter. He reported that the state of the Chinese Chapter is good. The Chapter will be undertaking two major research projects in the near term. The first involves economic development problems. The second involves enterprise reform and the training of managers. Wang noted that the Chapter intends to submit a proposal to the Policy Council to host the 2002 conference in Shanghai.


  2. Update on the 1999 Conference. Bob Cavana presented an update on the 1999 conference to be held in New Zealand. He reported that preparations are going well and that he was going to meet later in the day with the Executive Director and Vice President - Finance to go over the latest conference details. Cavana reassured the Council that the Society's arrangements with Victoria University, New Zealand, will be very similar to the arrangements between the Society and the University of Laval, Québec, for the 1998 conference.

    Other highlights from Cavana's report were:


    The theme of the conference will be: "Systems Thinking for the Next Millennium."


    Jac A. M. Vennix will chair the conference program committee and create a special issue of the System Dynamics Review from the best papers presented at the conference.


    The conference will be held in conjunction with the Fifth Australian and New Zealand Systems Conference.

    After Cavana's presentation, the Council's discussion centered on the issue of a holding a conference "in conjunction with" another Society's conference. Cavana noted that the Australian and New Zealand Systems Conference is an informational group, not a society and that, although the plenary sessions will be merged, the parallel sessions will not. The Council thanked Cavana for his report and asked him to convey the Council's thanks to his colleagues in New Zealand.


  3. Proposal for the Accreditation of System Dynamics Practitioners. Lou Alfeld handed out a proposal urging the establishment of a procedure for professionally accrediting system dynamics practitioners. Bob Cavana noted that the UK Operational Research Society just went through this process. President Barlas suggested that all Council members read Alfeld's proposal carefully and be prepared to discuss it at a future Council meeting.

3. Action Items.


  1. Approval of the Minutes of the 4 February 1998 Meeting of the Policy Council. Mike Radzicki moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion that the minutes of the 4 February 1998 meeting of the Policy Council be approved. The motion passed.


  2. Specialization of Associate Editors. Yaman Barlas moved and George Richardson seconded a motion that the Policy Council adopt the recommendation of the Publications Committee to publish the areas of specialization of the associate editors of the System Dynamics Review in the journal's masthead.

    A lively discussion of this motion followed. Arguments voiced in favor of publishing the associate editors' areas of specialization were that:


    1. they show the world what the Review is interested in publishing.


    2. they help to address the lack of productivity by some associate editors because the Executive Editor can easily tell who (i.e., what area) is generating new articles and who is not.

    Arguments voiced against publishing the associate editors' areas of specialization were that:


    1. they can create boundaries, and pigeon hole and demotivate people. An editor might pass on an opportunity to solicit an article because it is not in his or her area of specialization.


    2. they can create additional work for the Executive Editor who will have to recruit new associate editors when personal interests change.

    Seeing that the Council had mixed views about the issue, and noting that the recommendation had already been made to the Editor by the Publications Committee and that the final decision rests with the Editor, President Barlas withdrew the motion.


  3. Memorandum of Understanding Between the Society and the Organizers of the 1998 System Dynamics Conference. David Andersen presented the Council with a document that outlined the agreement between the Society and Laval University, Québec, vis-à-vis hosting the 1998 conference. He reported that a similar document had been drafted for the 1999 conference.

    Bob Eberlein moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion that the Policy Council approve the "Memorandum of Understanding..." document and charge the Administrative Committee with the task of generalizing the document so that it can be used for future conferences. A copy of the generalized document should be sent to Mike Radzicki and placed on the Policy Council web site. The motion passed.


  4. Adjustment to the 1998 Budget. Bob Eberlein reported that, to date in 1998, the Society had brought in more revenues than expected and spent more money than budgeted. He therefore moved, and Jack Pugh seconded, a motion to increase the 1998 budget to cover the Society's additional spending. The motion passed.


  5. 1999 Budget. Bob Eberlein moved and Jack Pugh seconded a motion to approave the 1999 budget as presented in the Report of the Vice President - Finance. Given the more complicated nature of the issues underlying this motion, President Barlas asked that it be tabled until the next meeting of the Policy Council. The motion was tabled.

4. Discussion Items.


  1. Society's Electronic Presence. The Council continued its on-going discussion of the Society's electronic presence. Topics included the electronic form of conference proceedings, back issues of the Review, and the System Dynamics Bibliography. The consensus of the Council was that, due to the on-going and successful efforts to produce a "Policy Council web site" at WPI, the responsibility for the Society's electronic presence should be given to Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


  2. More Formal Method for Selecting the Site of the Annual Conference. Bob Eberlein announced his intent to ask the Policy Council to adopt a new, two-stage, process for selecting the Society's annual conference location. The first stage would involve the Council receiving "pre-proposals" up to four years in advance of the conference being bid for. The second stage would involve the Council asking a sub-set of the pre-proposers to submit formal, full length, proposals to host the conference. Dave Ford reminded the Council that any proposals or pre-proposals should be submitted in writing.


  3. 2001 Conference Site. Bob Eberlein led a discussion about the location of the 2001 conference. He reminded the Council that the 2001 conference must be held in North America and reported that preliminary discussions have been held with Worcester Polytechnic Institute and with Nathan Forrester in Atlanta. He emphasized, however, that the location has not yet been determined and that he is actively seeking proposals from potential conference hosts in North America.

5. Adjournment.

Carmine Bianchi moved and Frank Maier seconded a motion that: "the meeting be adjourned." The motion passed. The meeting was adjourned by Yaman Barlas at 1:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted.

Michael J. Radzicki