Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council of the

System Dynamics Society

20 July 2003

Roosevelt Hotel, New York City, NY

Draft 18 August 2003

In Attendance


Paal Davidsen (President), Robert Eberlein (President Elect), James Hines (Past President), Jay Forrester (Founding President), David Packer (Secretary), David Andersen (Vice President--Finance), John Morecroft (Vice President—Publications), Ginny Wiley (Vice President--Members and Chapters), James Lyneis (Vice President--- Meetings),

Policy Council:

Carol Frances, Mohammad Mojtahedzadeh, David Peterson, Andreas Groessler, Kevin O’Neill, Qinq Xu, Deborah Campbell, Scott Rockart, Etienne Rouwette.


Walid Badr, Allen Boorstein, Bob Cavana, Brian Dangerfield, Vedat Diker, Issac Dyner, Nathan Forrester, Susan Forrester, Nikko Georgantzas, Paulo Goncales, Steve Hardman (Wiley), Tim Haslett, Jim Hines, Peter Hovmand, Ibrahim Hussney, Ozge Pala, Peter Milling, Anastassios Perdicoulis (Environmental Dynamics SIG),  Jack Pugh (Webmaster), Mike Radzicki, George Richardson, Roberta Spencer (Executive Director), John Sterman, Graham Winch.

Call to Order

President Paal Davidsen called the meeting to order at 1:15pm, welcoming participants, leading a round of introductions, and reviewing and commenting on the agenda. 

He also reviewed the nominations announced earlier and accepted for new officers and Policy Council members.  They are President Elect: Graham Winch (2004), VP Meetings: Jim Lyneis (2004 – 2006), VP At Large: Bob Cavana (2004 – 2006). And Policy Council members: Allen Boorstein, David Exelby, Tim Haslett, and Gianliborio Marrone (2004 – 2006).

Agenda Items

Minutes: Dave Packer.  The minutes of March 2003 Policy Council Meeting held at MIT in Cambridge, MA were approved without modification.

Budget Proposal for 2004: David Andersen.  David referred to the draft budget proposal that has been circulated and requested that it be modified to exclude, at this point, the $7 dues increase in it.  Without the dues increase, the budget is for a deficit of $4-5K rather than the small surplus shown.  He noted that after the large deficit incurred in $2002, largely the result of the Palermo Conference shortfall, the issue of sustainability for the Society is more urgent.  As a result the budget proposed reduces home office costs with the elimination one position (Vidat Diker will not be replaced), holds the Executive Director’s salary level (Roberta has volunteered this), and raises the beer game price by $10.  It also includes the 2004 Oxford Conference Budget in its modified form, which some people noted is somewhat risky because of our commitment to fill all rooms at Keble College and the high relative cost to attendees, which might reduce participants.

Budget implications are that the home office staff will need to do less, and that some tasks done there will have to be done by members voluntarily or eliminated.  John Sterman noted that this could have some favorable results in terms of involvement and various ideas for additional products were mentioned.

A major discussion of increasing Society dues ensued as a major opportunity to move toward sustainability.  Another thread was to attain affordability for participants from lower income parts of the world.  There was some feeling that given the services provided by the Society, our dues, now at $90/year (with a lower income rate of $45/yr) could be raised substantially and that none of the increase need go to Wiley.  The result here was formulation of a committee comprised of David Andersen, Jack Pugh, and Yaman Barlas to quickly develop a dues structure proposal to meet the needs of increased revenue and low-income affordability. 

Another concern was raised about the level salary for the Executive Director.  Tim Haslett and David Andersen will review this action.

Finally, a motion to approve the proposed budget and endorse the dues and salary reconsiderations for later possible change was approved unanimously.

Conference Structure: Bob Eberlein.  Bob reviewed the comprehensive proposal circulated on the web, and noted that it deals with the major issues of maintaining conference quality, reducing home office workloads, and moves toward research sessions in place of poster sessions. 

The following motions, contained in the proposal, were then considered.

Moved (by Bob Eberlein, second Ginny Wiley): That a committee chaired by Bob Eberlein and including Jac Vennix, Paal Davidsen, George Richardson, Peter Milling, John Sterman, Jim Lyneis, Andy Ford and Roberta Spencer be appointed to make a strong recommendation on the future structure of conference programs.  Their report should be submitted for a vote at the 2004 winter Policy Council meeting,

John Sterman offered a friendly amendment to allow Bob flexibility in getting the right people involved.  The motion was approved unanimously. 

Moved (by Bob Eberlein, second Etienne Rouwette): That Michael Kennedy and Graham Winch be approved as the Program Chairs for the 2004 Conference.  Approved unanimously.

Moved (by Bob Eberlein, second David Peterson): That the Program Chair in consultation with the Central office adjust the submission and review process to meet their needs and not be strictly bound by the standardized program guidelines adopted last year.  Approved unanimously.

Moved: (by Bob Eberlein, second David Peterson): That the Program Chairs for 2004 be strongly encouraged to appoint Thread Chairs to manage the program in a manner consistent with that described above.

It was noted in discussion that Thread Chairs could expect to spend 2-4 days (15-30 hours) on this role.  Also, that the thread process is in addition to the normal process, and like a board of editors.  Great care needs to be taken in their selection.  Also, this action takes decisions away from the home office. This motion was approved unanimously.

Another motion in the proposal, “That the Program Chairs in consultation with the Conference Chair, Thread Chairs, Central Office and VP Meetings, be strongly encouraged to decide, before October, whether to use the parallel/poster format currently in use or a variation on that” was withdrawn as unnecessary.

Paal Davidson thanked Bob Eberlein for the extensive work on this issue and this set of proposals.

2005 Conference Location: Jim Lyneis.  Jim led a wide-ranging discussion of the 2005 Conference location, conference goals, and location philosophy. 

Jim set out a possible set of conference goal issues, such as high quality practice growth, development of beginners and new practitioners, growth of SD in academia, businesses, and government, and strengthening of the society.

Location strategies include rotating non-fixed sites with local hosts (current method), rotating fixed sites without local hosts, and linking with other conferences. 

All of this stimulated extensive discussion.  Major points emerging included:

Graham Winch stated that he was very encouraged by the tone of the discussion.  He believes we need to maintain past values, remember that academics need to present to go, that we need to make money, and that an efficient process is important.

In wrapping up, Paal Davidson asked Jim Lyneis to review the discussion and to lead the initiative to have a recommendation for review at the Winter Policy Council meeting, using the group already established for this task (George Richardson, Deb Campbell, Alan Graham, Mohammed Mojtahedzadeh, John Sterman, Roberta Spencer, Ginny Wiley).  Then this could either be resolved at the next summer Policy Council meeting or, if time is critical, be resolved with an email vote.

2005 Conference Location: Jim Lyneis.  Jim suggested that Boston or Albany might be considered.  Dave Packed noted that this is an opportunity for developing a “fixed default site”, likely in the Northeast US.  Other suggestions included Portland/Seattle, WPI (with new facilities).  Roberta confirmed that Albany can provide inexpensive lodging, a campus setting (no A/V cost) and that rooms are available.

It was moved that Jim Lyneis put together an organizing committee to recommend a Northeastern US location for 2005.  The motion was approved.

At a subsequent meeting Wednesday 24 July 2003, Bob Eberlein moved, David Anderson seconded a motion for the organizing committee led by Jim Lyneis, and including Bob Eberlein, Leanne Grillo, John Sterman, and Nelson Repenning.  The motion was approved.  It was agreed that Boston would be the likely site but that Worcester and Albany were also possibilities.

In addition, Isaac Dyer noted that Mexico was interested in generating a proposal for 2007.

Awards Committee and VP Publications Report: John Morecroft.  Major points:

-- John expressed his desire to step down from the position of VP Publications.

--The Dana Meadows student awards require recipients to present papers at a conference.  This is an issue, as Yaman Barlas has articulated, because it excludes students who are financially unable to come to conferences.  John suggested that this issue be considered by the Awards Committee who will report back and propose changes to be implemented in 2004 to the Policy Council.  This proposal was accepted.  Yaman Barlas was thanked in abstentia for raising this important issue in a very positive way.

--Jim Hines gave the status of the Application Award, proposed in the last meeting by Alan Graham.  This award aims at advancing the state of the art in real-life applications.  It will be further considered by the Awards Committee, including the question of whether this will mean a separate Awards Committee, whether it needs to be based on a public paper, and other issues.

--The establishment of an Environmental Dynamics/Sustainable Development Award, which would not interfere with other awards, will also be considered by the Awards Committee.

Wiley Offer for Free Copies of the System Dynamics Review: Bob Cavana was asked to follow up on this by Paal Davidson, with a proposal for the next Policy Council meeting.

Executive Director’s Report: Roberta Spencer.  Roberta summarized key accomplishments, well documented in her written report.  (This report is an excellent source of information for Policy Council members).  Membership is at an all time high and the New York City conference participant total will be over 400.  Kudos to Roberta and thanks for her accomplishments were offered!

Publisher’s Report/John Wiley:  Steve Hardman.  Steve reviewed his written report, emphasizing that on-line usage is now a key factor and that an on-line repository for models continues to be a need.  Wiley is planning pay-for-view, which could lead to society membership for frequent payers.

Wiley is also proposing increasing the institutional rate by 6.6%, and this proposal encountered serious resistance from members.  Brian Dangerfield noted that University budgets are very tight, that the institutional rate has increased every year since 1997, and that subscribers have declined from 224 in 1997 to 157 in 2002.  Paal Davidson asked the Editorial Board to follow up on this issue.

VP Chapters Report: Ginny Wiley.  Ginny reported briefly that we now have eleven chapters, with Brazil the newest, and two Special Interest Groups.

System Dynamics Review Report: Brian Dangerfield.  Brian reviewed his written report and noted that the backlog quality is OK in total but weak in articles ready for publication.  He also noted the need for a model repository, the NY conference review process, and the favorable impact of special issues.

David Peterson raised the question of the opportunity to self-publish rather than paying Wiley.  Would this be possible without damaging academics? Paal Davidson asked David Peterson and Brian Dangerfield to explore this issue in conjunction with David Anderson and Roberta Spencer and report back to the Council.

Environmental Dynamics SIG Report: Anastassios Perdicoulis.  This SIG now has fifty-seven members and a strategic partner, the Sustainability Institute.  It was commended for being a good example of a successful interest group. 

Education SIG Report: Carol Frances.  Carol reviewed her written report and emphasized the focus on outreach and the plan for a second workshop in conjunction with the Oxford Conference.

Chapter Reports: Two chapters reported. The Egypt chapter described its activities and issues in legalizing the chapter with the Egyptian government.  The China chapter described their work to integrate a SD conference with another conference, as well as opportunities in Taiwan and activity in the Middle School arena. 

(NOTE:  The preceding items were considered at two sessions, the first from 1pm to 5:30pm 24 April 2003, the second from about 7pm to about 9:30pm 24 April 2003.   The following items were considered at a reconvening at 8am Wednesday 25 April 2003).

Agenda Items not Discussed: The following three agenda items were bypassed by consensus of the group: WEB Committee (not needed), VP Mandates (not critical to review or change at this time), and Curriculum Committee (no information, not critical now).

VP Publications Opening (to replace John Morecroft): As the President can appoint someone to this position for an interim period, proposals or ideas of candidates to Paal Davidson were encouraged.

Administrative Committee Chair: Peter Milling agreed to chair the Administrative Committee.  In the past this committee has had no chair.  Thanks, Peter!

Nominating Committee: This Committee is formed by the outgoing President, so Paal Davidson announced the members will be Graham Winch, Paal Davidson, Carmine Bianchi, Kim Warren and Paulo Gonzales.  A motion to approve (Bob Eberlein moved, Jim Lyneis seconded) was accepted.

Conference 2005: This item covered earlier  (“2005 Conference Location”).  See above.

Next Policy Council Meeting: The Winter Policy Council Meeting is tentatively scheduled for the second week of February 2004.  Location will be announced.


Meeting adjourned by consensus at 8:50 am.

Respectfully Submitted,

David W. Packer, Secretary

18 August 2003

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