Minutes of the Meeting of the Policy Council
of the System Dynamics Society
23 July 2004
Keble College, Oxford University, Oxford, England

For supporting reports click here.

In Attendance


Robert Eberlein (President), Graham Winch (President Elect), David Packer (Secretary), David Andersen (Vice President--Finance), Deborah Andersen (Vice President—Publications), Ginny Wiley (Vice President--Members and Chapters), James Lyneis (Vice President--- Meetings), Bob Cavana (Vice President—At Large), Brian Dangerfield (Executive Editor, System Dynamics Review).

Policy Council:

Allen Boorstein, David Exelby, Andreas Groessler, Deborah Campbell, Tim Haslett, David Lane, Scott Rockart, Etienne Rouwette.


Audry Argyzides, Yaman Barlas, Vedat Diker, Peirre Ehrlich (Brazil Chapter), Nikko Georgantzas (Hellenic Chapter), Peter Hovmand, Michael Kennedy (Education SIG), Birgit Kopainsky (Student Chapter and Swiss Chapter), Hironori Kurono, Peter Milling, John Morecroft, Brad Morrison, Oleg Pavlov (Economic Dynamics Chapter), Anastassios Perdicoulis (Environmental Dynamics SIG), Mike Radzicki, Graham Russel (Wiley), Roberta Spencer (Executive Director), Rohita Singh (Australasia Chapter), John Sterman,  Lees Stuntz, Akira Uchino (Japan Chapter), Silvia Ulli-Beer (Swiss Chapter)

Call to Order and Agenda Overview

President Bob Eberlein called the meeting to order at 1:10pm, moderated introductions of those present, and provided an overview of the agenda.

Reports, Announcements, and Straightforward Agenda Items

Minutes: Dave Packer.  The minutes of February 2004 Policy Council Meeting held at MIT in Cambridge, MA were approved without modification.

Decision Recap: Bob Eberlein.  Bob reviewed the decision made by e-mail vote after the February meeting to significantly modify the contract between the Society and Wiley.  This process, which Bob described as “pleasant” involved himself, Brian Dangerfield and Roberta Spencer and results in benefits to the Society in financial terms as well as increased chapter and editorial support.  Graham Russell, our new Wiley representative expressed agreement with the assessment.

VP Publications: (Deborah Andersen).

-- Wiley Report: (Graham Russell).  Graham distributed his report and discussed operations, services, and marketing and on-line access where he urged including all back issues.  It was noted that Becky Waring has offered to scan older SDR issues and that this should be done cooperatively with Wiley.  Graham will report back on this process which is heavily supported by the Policy Council.

-- Webmaster: (Jack Pugh).  Jack’s written report was referenced and briefly reviewed.

-- System Dynamics Review: (Brian Dangerfield).  Brian commented on the state of current issues, which is healthy, noted the rejection rate is running at about 36%, that Special Issues do well (one is just out, focusing on environmental topics), noted that the tie-in with the conference paper review process is quite useful, and that the “Manuscript Central” process offered by Wiley that automates handling of papers should be endorsed.

-- Newsletters: (Bob Eberlein).  There are now four issues annually, two electronic and two hard-copy which are now scheduled in conjunction with renewal efforts now being managed by the home office as a result of the new Wiley contract. 

-- Spanish SD Newsletter: A proposal for a Spanish newsletter was endorsed; Bob Eberlein encouraged formation of a Spanish Chapter to do this.

Administrative Committee: (Peter Milling).  Peter reported that the main focus of this committee is home office operations and funding, which it will review with an eye to recommendations for change before the end of the calendar year.

Executive Director: (Roberta Spencer).  Roberta referenced her full report, emphasizing conference issues, web site activity increases, the submission and review system for conference papers, growing membership (we could pass the 1000 mark this year), a resurgence of Beer Game sales, the D-Memo DVD (a very important new product) on the verge of release, and an increased number of sponsors.

VP Finance: (David Andersen).  David referred to his written report and budget proposal, with the comment that this year’s proposed budget is preliminary and expected to be revised.  It includes increased staff for the membership process being assumed by the home office along with increased revenue from membership dues.  He noted that some of the 2005 surplus shown is non-recurring and results from timing differences as we collect dues directly and at the same time received payments for past dues collected by Wiley.  The change in our business model is significant and we need to assure full understanding of the implications (which should be favorable).

David Anderson moved (seconded by Bob Cavana): To approve the proposed budget with the expectation that the Administrative Committee will modify it after further study.  In brief discussion, David was asked about his concern level and he responded that it was more positive than last year.  The motion was approved unanimously.

VP Meetings: (Jim Lyneis).  Jim first expressed thanks to WPI, Fordham, and Roberta Spencer for the very successful 2003 conference.  He then reviewed the current conference plan status, e.g.

--2005 in Boston, with assurance from John Sterman that it will be highly successful.

--2006.  There are four proposals that will be reviewed for decision at this meeting.

--2007.  There are three proposals in the works and Boston would be the default

--2008.  Spain has expressed some interest in a proposal.

Jim noted that there is no formal rotation schedule yet agreed.  Deborah Campbell noted that formalizing such a rotation would serve to encourage proposals.  Bob Cavana opined that given membership demographics, once every five years a conference should be outside the US and Europe.  Ginny Wiley suggested work on this should involve the Chapters, and she and Bob Cavana will be an informal committee to explore ideas for non-US/Europe locations.

VP Members and Chapters:  (Ginny Wiley).  Ginny welcomed our two new chapters (Swiss and Economic Dynamics) and was supported with applause.  She also noted that we now have 13 Chapters and 4 Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

In response to a question as to why Economic Dynamics is a chapter, rather than a SIG, Mike Radziki responded that this is allowed by our by-laws, that it aids in getting formal recognition, that it would enable publishing a journal and charging dues.  Ginny noted that the Student chapter is also not geographic.  Graham Winch noted that being a chapter is a two-edged sword and entails greater responsibilities than a SIG. 

It was also noted that although chapters are required to file annual reports, most have not done this.  Ginny will work this issue and report on it in the Newsletter.  She will also review with chapters any ideas they have as to how the Policy Council could encourage activities and linkages at the chapters meeting this week.

Nominating Committee: (Bob Eberlein).  Bob announced that the nominating committee, which he will chair, to provide nominations for open officer and Policy Council slots for 2006 will consist of Yaman Barlas, Deborah Campbell, Bob Cavana, Pal Davidson, Isaac Dyner, and Qifan Wang.  His motion for approval of this list was approved unanimously.  Positions that will be open are President Elect, VP Publications, Secretary, and four Policy Council members. 

Membership Dues: (Bob Eberlein).  Bob proposed no dues changes for 2005 in the interest of not inducing additional changes in a complex set of other changes.  This was endorsed by consensus. 

Additional discussion about free SDR subscriptions to members of the Editorial Board from Wiley resulted in a motion by John Sterman (seconded by Mike Radziki) that:  “Associate Editors will receive complementary copies of the SDR and that there will be no further administrative process associated with this action.”  The motion was approved unanimously.

Web Repository for Models: (Bob Eberlein).  Bob moved (David Lane seconding) that: “A committee to work on this capability be appointed consisting of Brian Dangerfield, Jack Pugh, Deborah Andersen, Oleg Pavlov, and Graham Russel.”  Discussion noted that both “classic” models as well as SDR models should be included, and that the review process is a critical element.  The motion was approved unanimously. 

Professional Development Conference: The idea of a conference focusing on professional development will be investigated by Jim Thompson.  Questions were raised as to whether this might be better integrated within the ISDC. Later on, Deborah Campbell expressed additional concern about fragmenting our efforts with additional conferences. 

K-12 Activities: Following brief discussion of involvement in K-12 activities, the Policy Council made it clear that it actively encourages proposals for new types of chapters and members. 

A short break was taken at this point.

Pressing Issues

Conference Site Selection Guidelines: (Jim Lyneis). Deborah Andersen moved (seconded by Graham Winch) that “The Conference Site Selection Guidelines as distributed by Jim Lyneis be adopted”.  Discussion raised the issue of which departure cities should be used for cost comparisons, which will be considered.  In addition, it was pointed out that we integrated conference and program guidelines.  However, this is a living document and will be revised as we go forward and learn.  The motion passed unanimously.

Program Guidelines: An intended motion on this topic was withdrawn by Bob Eberlein after Graham Winch requested this action based on the need to incorporate the current UK conference experience before formalizing.  Graham and Bob will review, so this item was deferred to the Winter Policy Council Meeting.

2006 Conference Decision: (Jim Lyneis) Jim set the stage for a discussion and decision on the 2006 conference.  The four alternatives on the table are Greece (Crete), Netherlands (Nijmegen), and two Switzerland venues (Flims and Lugano).

Proponents described each location very well in brief presentations.  Then extensive discussion covered a number of points, such as: what are the key factors that should be included?, that “vacation appeal” should not be a major determinant of location as this is not the main reason for a conference, that profitability needs to be a goal, that quality needs to be maintained, that direct cost per person and the Society cost per person need to understood and to be comparable, that the benefit to the Society and the field is vital and the trade-off between a single housing location where people are all together and a location offering a number of housing choices but in different locations.  

After discussion, a voting process was agreed and executed.  It involved paper (secret) ballots and two stage voting.  The result was a motion by David Lane (Allen Boorstein seconding) “that Nijmegen, Netherlands be the site of the 2006 conference.”  The motion was approved.

Important Issues

Diversity in System Dynamics Society Membership:  (Deborah Campbell) Deborah gave a presentation that focused on our membership diversity by gender.  It showed that our female membership percentage has been essentially constant at 12% as the society has grown, and that this fraction is low relative to other fields.  Further analysis showed that retention of women members is a major factor and that if retention were increased the fraction of women could rise to 20% within five years, a level that seems to be a critical minimum for healthy collegiality.

As a result Deborah recommended three actions:  (1) That we formally track diversity, (2) That we conduct exit interviews with women who exit, and (3) That a subcommittee be formalized to focus on this issue, consisting of Deborah, Peter Hovemand, and Roberta Spencer.  A motion by David Lane (seconded by Bob Eberlein) to accept these recommendations was made and approved unanimously.  In discussion, John Sterman offered to help as he has been involved in MIT diversity initiatives, and it was suggested that a newsletter article be published on this topic and our actions.

Conference Scholarship Committee: (Bob Eberlein) Bob proposed such a committee to study and make recommendations, consisting of David Exelby, Tim Haslett, Deborah Campbell and Allen Boorstein.  The council endorsed this idea. 

Complementary Society Memberships: (Bob Eberlein).  Bob moved (Graham Winch seconding) “that up to 23 people be given complementary memberships to promote diversity of membership by geography.”  In discussion, it was pointed out that the cost to the Society is $15 per membership since Wiley gives this number of free journals.  The motion was approved unanimously.  Also, a committee to implement this action was appointed, consisting of Bob Cavana (chair), Scott Rockart, Graham Winch, and David Lane with the mandate to report back at the 2005 Policy Council meeting.

Budgeting:  The Administration Committee was charged with the responsibility to propose revisions to the 2005 budget approved here and to have the proposal ready for an electronic vote of the Policy Council before December 1, 2004.

Discussion and Development Ideas

Mandate for Vice Presidents: The Nominating Committee agreed to work the issue of assuring that we have the right set of vice presidents and that charters are clear.  Deborah Campbell volunteered to spearhead this effort.

Volunteer Tasks: Bob Eberlein briefly reviewed areas where there is opportunity for volunteer work.  These included society logo policy, reseller issues, editorial presentation format, member services ideas and organization, and “yellow pages” for system dynamics.


Ginny Wiley moved (Deborah Campbell seconding) that we adjourn, which was passed unanimously at 6:15pm

Respectfully Submitted,
David W. Packer, Secretary
12 August 2004
[email protected]

 Last edited by JP 9/29/04