Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council

of the

System Dynamics Society

15 February 2001

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA

In Attendance

Officers: Ali Mashayekhi (President), James Hines (President Elect), Jay W. Forrester (Founding President), David Andersen (V.P. Finance), Nan Lux (V.P. Members), Robert Eberlein (V.P. Meetings), David Packer (Secretary)

Policy Council: Rogelio Oliva, Ginny Wiley, Jonathon Coyle, John Heinbokel, Carol Francis, Mohammad Mojtahedzadeh, David Peterson

Guests: John Sterman, Allan Borstein, Jack Pugh, Hazhir Rahmandal, Michael Radzicki, Khalid Saeed, Roberta Spencer

Call to Order

President Ali Mashayekhi called the meeting to order at 10:10 am.

Informational Items

John Sterman inquired about an on-line directory, and David said it was coming soon. It has not been decided whether a hard copy will also be available. John also commented that "we are not very good at spending our surpluses", noting that the Society has accumulated substantial cash.

Ali Mashayekhi will communicate directly with Eric Wolstenholme about this discussion and the urgent need for change.

Ali Mashayekhi ended this discussion by pointing out that we need to get the editors working on all these issues.

Jonathan Coyle distributed and discussed a comprehensive proposal for a UK conference in 2004, to be held at Oxford University's Keble College. Oxford is a central and attractive location, the conference would be ten years after the last in the UK and would be the first in England. It would play a key role in catalyzing UK Chapter membership. Keble College (Jonathon's alma mater) provides excellent facilities and can accommodate 500 - if more is required additional space can be arranged. Cost will be $150/day for room and board with a $350 registration. Conference will be profitable at as few as 200 attendees and very profitable with 500. A firm commitment is needed soon.

It was moved that the UK submit a long proposal for a vote in Atlanta. Approval was unanimous.

Nan also commented on the Japanese chapter, celebrating their 10th anniversary, holding monthly meetings, and having an interesting web site. The Australasian chapter meets monthly, feels "thinly spread out", and also has a web page in progress. New Zealand is realizing some nice increases in membership.

Nan suggested that Chapter Representatives should be listed on the Society letterhead. She also suggested that a workshop be held at the Atlanta conference, scheduled as a one-hour session. This was agreed, and Jonathon Coyle offered to organize it.

There was further discussion of what motivates chapter formation and both the benefits of influencing the Society and of the Society facilitating activities were cited. It was also noted that at least ten members are required for a chapter, and that hard currency is a deterrent in places such as China, even with reduced dues in place.

Committee Reports

Jay Forrester pointed to the need in K-12 programs for curriculum and concern that there is no clarity of what a full program would be. Do we have materials that go beyond three or four years (consensus is no)? What is the right progression?

Ali Mashayekhi noted that content and subjects that one should know needs to be identified, and that the work of this committee is very important and needs to be encouraged. The committee also needs inputs from experienced people.

President Elect: Bob Eberlein

Secretary: Jim Lyneis

Vice President--Publications: John Morecroft

Policy Council Members: David Lane, Jody House, Etienne Rouwette, and Deborah Campbell

Jack Pugh raised a question as to whether nominations are made a year earlier than desirable, and whether the Secretary term should be longer than two years. One view was that the "institutional memory" now resides with the Executive Director, so the Secretary term can be shorter.

Jack Pugh moved and Bob Eberlein seconded a motion that "The Policy Council authorizes the Administrative Committee to investigate and purchase adequate liability insurance." The motion was approved unanimously.

Action Items

Thanks for his work here were extended to John Sterman. Ali Mashayekhi noted that this is a very visible committee, that high standards are essential, and that the three or more members should all be award recipients. The committee can be reconstituted when that is deemed necessary.

Discussion Items

He believes the standards of the System Dynamics Review have eroded and that the absence of models makes if difficult for people to learn. He suggested that the models for articles should be on the Society's Web site. John Sterman disagreed. Jay opined that we need a culture of criticizing our work against standards we believe so that learning takes place. David Peterson suggested publishing lists of reality checks and challenging people to meet them. Ali Mashayekhi suggested a section of the Review that discusses models, and David Peterson suggested a two part Review with one part being papers with models and the second part "Letters to the Journal" discussing proprietary work where models cannot be shared.

Ginny Wiley asked, "who should be at the table, like the Editor of the Review, for robust discussion of this important issue?" Jay Forrester suggested that this meeting should recognize the problem and make a commitment to do something about it.

Ali Mashayekhi stated that the root need is training and education and an understanding of the learning processes. He agreed that we should recognize the issue.

Tapes could be offered separately (two-tape sessions) or as a complete package of eleven sessions, and Jay will make them available for distribution by the Society. A companion reading list still needs to be completed. It was noted that these are not for beginers, and that a method for use would be to assign them as preparation for a subsequent class discussion.

Pricing might be in the range of $50/set of two or $500+ for the full eleven sets. Roberta Spencer will follow up to develop a plan for sale and distribution. Many thanks were given to Jay for this contribution to the field!

More generally, it was noted that the general membership voted to endorse three Society priorities:

It was agreed that these items would on the agenda for discussion at the next Policy Council meeting


Ali Mashayekhi moved and Jonathon Coyle seconded a motion that "the meeting be adjourned", unanimously approved at 4:00 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

David W. Packer



Last edited by JP 3/23/01