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System Dynamics Society


Volume 20 - Number 4     October 2007



From the President Society News - New Products Available Chapter and Special Interest Group News
Member News      Fireside Chat with Jay W. Forrester      Special Chapter / SIG Poster Session and Reports
     David Lane and Elke Husemann Win Forrester Award      Electronic Oracle Reprint Announcements and Calls for Papers
     Dana Meadows Student Prize Awarded Boston Conference Report      2008 International System Dynamics Conference, Athens, Greece
     First System Dynamics Application Award Presented      PhD Colloquium      New activity for Business SIG
     Barry Richmond Scholarship Award      Other Session Reports      Call for Interest-Participatory Methods & Issues Chapter or SIG
     Best Poster Award      Letters from Conference Participants      Call for Interest in Society Governance
     Diagram Slam Competition      Conference In Memoriam Policy Council Holds Summer Meeting in Boston
     In Memoriam   Society Sponsors and Conference Sponsors
  Publication and Contact Information

Thank You

Many thanks to all who contributed their writing, photographs, and information to this issue of the newsletter, especially all the session reporters: Mónica Altamirano, Victor Auterio, Binita Bhattacharjee, Myong-Hun Chang, Henry Cole, Rajat Dwahan, Carmine Garzia, Usman Ghani, Stefan Groesser, Savas Hadjipavlou, Mark Heffernan, Gary Hirsch, Peter Hovmand, Susan Howick, Qian Hu, Maggie Kean, Birgit Kopainsky, Rudolf Kulhavy, Man-Hyung Lee, Kathleen Lusk Brooke, Debra Lyneis, Mike Okrent, Sergio Penaloza, Hazhir Rahmandad, Joel Rahn, Mike Reilly, Scott Rockart, Jeremy Sato, Claudia Schwarz, Anas Tawileh, Ming-pin Wang, Helen Wolfe, Gönenç Yucel, and Aldo Zagonel. Apologies if we have inadvertently omitted anyone.

Additional photos provided by: Stefano Armenia, Dean Christensen, Jay Forrester, Wai Ge, Navid Ghaffarzadegan, Usman Ghani, Ralf Lippold, Young-min Oh, Jack Pugh, Fang Tian, and others.

From the President - The 50th Anniversary of System Dynamics

Presidentís Address given at the 25th International System Dynamics Conference in Boston, Massachusetts, USA August 1, 2007

I am honored to talk to all of you as the 2007 President of the System Dynamics Society.

In the past 50 years, System Dynamics has made many contributions, theoretical and practical, applicable to the whole world. In the early days, the main applications of System Dynamics were in industry: fluctuation of production and employment, disequilibrium in markets and corporate growth to name just a few. Since the late 1960s, however, System Dynamics has become widely known for its important contributions to social and economic research with the work in urban and global dynamics, especially the Limits to Growth, reaching a very wide ranging audience. By looking at the program for this conference it is clear that this breadth of work continues.

In brief, System Dynamics has made and will make valuable contributions to the development of human society. System Dynamics has become a mainstream method for the investigation of complex socioeconomic systems and has great potential to contribute to social, economic and managerial research. System Dynamics has also shown its value in the educational process, from primary school through graduate studies, providing more people with the ability to think coherently about the complex dynamic problems that we face. Finally, System Dynamics has an important place and, and should continue contribute to, the study of the sciences of complexity.

While System Dynamics is important to society, it is also important to me and I would like to say a few words about why I chose to study this subject at MIT and what System Dynamics means to me. First why I chose MIT: This can be traced back more than 100 years ago; an uncle of my mother had studied abroad with the support of China’s Qing Dynasty government. He went to MIT for undergraduate and graduate studies coming back to China at the age of 24 where he became a professor at the former Shanghai Jiao Tong University. When I was 4 or 5, my mother started to tell me all about him. From then on, I wished to study at these two places. This was not to happen for many years. I attended Tsinghua University in Beijing and then taught there for 21 years. It was not until 1979 that I transferred to a University in Shanghai, though not Shanghai Jiao Tong. Happily, however, I did get a chance to go to the Sloan School of Management at MIT as a visiting scholar.

Society President, Qifan Wang

I had majored in Automation at Tsinghua University, which is based on feedback theory. This is why and how I connected with the System Dynamics Group at MIT and became part of that group in 1983.

There are a number of unforgettable memories of Jay Forrester during my System Dynamics career. When I was at MIT, he and I chatted a little on a summer day in 1983. Forrester told me that he had initiated and studied System Dynamics for 27 years and that he planned to study it for another 27 years. He was already 64 years old at that time. I was deeply moved by his words. It was very inspiring and encouraging. After MIT I returned to China, and since then my entire career has been devoted to the development of System Dynamics in China. In the late 70’s, Forrester started to introduce System Dynamics to high school education. I tried to do the same in Shanghai. Unfortunately, my ideas were rejected with variety of objections, which disappointed me a lot. Later, I was very pleased to learn that some scholars in Nanjing successfully included System Dynamics in high school courses. At the 2005 Boston Conference, I introduced the Nanjing delegation to Prof. Forrester for his advice. He told us that System Dynamics should be spread to kindergarten. I was startled by this point of view. Forrester is relentless in his desire to spread the field and I believe this idea will become important for System Dynamics in the future. Kids will be cultivated to be more creative from the very beginning, which will contribute a lot to improving their abilities and problem solving capacity.

Having said all the good things about System Dynamics, still we have to look for weaknesses and areas for improvement, such as the unbalanced geographical development and regional discrepancies. Starting in 2005, we have organized a regional conference once every other year in Asia-Pacific. This conference provides opportunities for scholars in developing countries and areas to exchange their ideas. At present, many researchers in developing countries can not afford to attend the international conference in the US or Europe. At a rough calculation, an air ticket from East Asia to the US or Europe costs around $2000, accommodation costs around $600 ($120 per day for 5 days.) Together with expenses of registration, visa application and inner-city transportation, the total expenditure reaches about $3000. With limited funding, many scholars and students have to give up the trip. Regional conferences can be closer, easier to arrange travel to and have local expenses more in line with the norms for the region - very significantly reducing barriers to attendance. Regional conferences are also an important mechanism for system dynamics to change from being mainly in US and Europe to being in every continent. Regional conferences are now happening regularly in the Asia-Pacific and Latin America and hopefully we can work out a feasible strategy to have even more of them.

Here, I am delighted to announce that we have established a planning team to look into key initiatives in the next 50 years of System Dynamics. Prof. Joel Rahn is heading the team (Ms. Deborah Campbell, Prof. Henk A. Akkermans and Prof. Yutaka Takahashi) and I hope we will have some concrete recommendations to make by the end of this year. After that, we would like to collect detailed implementation measures from all of you, by means of Internet, conferences and so on. We look forward to your support and suggestions! Finally, I’d like to give a few comments on the relationship of System Dynamics and World Civilization. Currently, there are 7-8 kinds of dominant political structures in this world which, along with the counties that embody them, will conflict and compete among one another. Many scholars believe that conflict of political structures can only lead to the conflict of culture, and even war. I do not believe this is true. System Dynamics, being fundamentally neutral with respect to political structure, is able to support the peaceful synthesis, cooperative development and coordination of all civilizations and political structures. Ever since the late 1970s China has been opening its interactions and reforming its policies as it strives for prosperity, equity and civility. Hopefully, Sino Civilization will evolve to be recognized as belonging to the world’s excellent civilizations in the future. I hope System Dynamics and our Society can contribute to the peaceful development of civilizations and political structures around the world, including both developed and developing countries and areas.

Qifan Wang

Member News

David Lane and Elke Husemann Win Forrester Award

David Lane and Elke Husemann

The Jay Wright Forrester Award recognizes the author/s of the best contribution to the field of system dynamics in the preceding five years. This year the award was presented to David Lane and Elke Husemann for their winning work "Steering Away from Scylla, Falling into Charybdis: The Importance of Recognising, Simulating and Challenging Reinforcing Loops in Social Systems". published in Entscheiden in Komplexen Systemen [Decision-making in Complex Systems] in 2002. The citation and winners' speech (delivered at the award ceremony in Boston) will be published in full in the System Dynamics Review. They can be found by searching the System Dynamics Review page at Wiley InterScience (http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/home) for Volume 23, Issue 2-3 (Summer-Fall 2007); abstracts are available to all; full articles are only available for members to view.

Jac Vennix
Chair, Jay W. Forrester Award Committee

Dana Meadows Award Winners

Out of the over 30 student papers submitted for this year's awards, these were regarded as excellent papers and worthy contributions to System Dynamics. The authors are to be congratulated for their efforts and their success in analyzing and providing insight into significant dynamic issues. This year's winner of the Dana Meadows Award for best student paper presented a the annual conference is David Wheat, currently at the University of Bergen, Norway. His paper is entitled “The Feedback Method of Teaching Macroeconomics: Is it Effective?”

Honorable Mentions in the competition for 2007 were extremely close in their ratings. In alphabetical order, they are H. Willem Geert Phaff, Delft University of Technology for “Visualising the Effects of Non-linearity by Creating Dynamic Causal Diagrams” and Firat Incioglu, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey for the paper “A Dynamic Simulation Model for Long-Term Hypertension Progression.”

Congratulations to all the 2007 Dana Meadows Award winners! Their papers, as well as the full text of the Dana Meadows Award Ceremony may be viewed at the 2007 Conference web proceedings at: http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2007/proceed/index.htm

Joel Rahn
Chair, Dana Meadows Award Committee

H. Willem Geert Phaff, David Wheat, Joel Rahn and Firat Incioglu

System Dynamics Application Award

Jim Lyneis introduced the first System Dynamics Application Award noting that System Dynamics has, for all 50 years, been concerned with having a positive effect. After reading the statement about the purpose of the applications award, he noted that there were many good entries for the award but that one had stood out. That was the work done for GM’s OnStar program, which is described in the 2002 paper "A Multimethod Approach for Creating New Business Models: The General Motors OnStar Project," published in. Interfaces32 (1):20-34 by Vince Barabba, Chet Huber, Fred Cooke, Nick Pudar, Jim Smith, and Mark Paich.

Jim Lyneis recommended the paper as a guide for future award applicants as they describe models and illustrate the influence of the modeling process. He noted that the model continued to fit the data of the developing business well. Jim commended the work, pointing out the great challenges the modelers faced in supporting a business so different from the ones traditionally within GM.

Mark Paich accepted the award for the team. He stated that the other members were now busy running a successful business, namely Onstar. Since the authors presented the work in a plenary session at the 2005 International System Dynamics Conference, the talk was kept brief. Mark humbly pointed out that it is "one thing to build a model, another to pull off building a business from 0 to 5 million subscribers in just 5 yearrs" and took time to thank more people than this reporter was able to record.

Scott Rockart

Barry Richmond Scholarship Award

Margarita Cruz, Kathy Richmond and Joanne Egner

Starting in 2007 and occuring each year, isee systems will present the Barry Richmond Scholarship Award to a deserving Systems Thinking practitioner who plans to attend the International System Dynamics Conference. The conference is an important opportunity to meet with others who are applying Systems Thinking to a wide range of educational, research, business, and scientific endeavors, to share experiences, learn new techniques, and gain new perspectives. But, for many students, academics, and others, conference attendance can be a financial strain.

isee systems presented Margarita Cruz, a recent PhD graduate from the University of Bergen, with the first $1,000 Scholarship Award that helped fund her trip to the 2007 International System Dynamics Conference in Boston, MA. Dr. Cruz’s work includes evaluating System Dynamics as a tool for teaching history to high school students. The next Award will enable its recipient to attend the 2008 Conference in Athens, Greece.

The Barry Richmond Scholarship Award is named for isee system’s founder. Barry Richmond was devoted to the practice of Systems Thinking; it was his mission to make Systems Thinking accessible to people in all fields and professions. Through the annual Scholarship Award, isee systems is continuing Barry’s legacy. Congratulations Margarita!

Applications for the 2008 Barry Richmond Scholarship Award will be available on the isee systems (www.iseesystems.com) and System Dynamics Society (www.systemdynamics.org) web sites. Check those sites for more information.

Best Poster Award

Attendees of the Monday night Poster Symposium voted to present the Best Poster Award to Burak Eskici and Burak Türkgülü for their presentation of "Modeling the Dynamics of Avian Influenza Epidemics and Possible Pandemics." The winners, as well as the runners up were the given certificates.

Honorable Mention posters included (not in order):

  • Application of Resilience Analysis in Production Systems – Bombardier Transportation Case Study by Felicjan Rydzak and Edward Chlebus.
  • Modeling Aviation Security Processes: A Group Model Building Approach by Ignacio Martinez-Moyano, Stephen Conrad, Andrew Cox and Chris Krahe
  • The Climate Bathtub Sim: An Interactive Simulator to Teach Stock-and-Flow Mechanics of Global Warming by Peter Senge, Andrew Jones, Linda Sweeney, John Sterman, Juan Martin Garcia, Michael Tempel and Thomas Fiddaman
  • What Constitutes Systems Thinking? A review of practitioner views by Krystyna Stave, Megan Hopper and Stephanie Fincher

Burak Eskici and Burak Türkgülü

First Diagram Slam Competition

Eve Pinsker exposed her creative causal loop diagram "Hillary Clinton's Descending Neckline" for the first ever Diagram Slam Competition. The graphic diagram conveyed the story of a recent news article on this topic.

In Memoriam

Toshiro Shimada
I am profoundly sorry to learn that Prof. Toshiro Shimada, a professor emeritus at Meiji University and a founder of the Japan Chapter, passed away on 31st March.The System Dynamics Society, China Chapter and I send our heartfelt condolences. This is a great loss, not only for his family, but also for all members of the System Dynamics Society, especially those from Asia like me. He dedicated his life to the development of system dynamics and the friendship of people from different countries.

I remember our last two meetings clearly. In Japan in 1995, he hosted the 13th International Conference in Tokyo. Following the conference, we had discussions about jointly organizing another new system dynamics conference in Asia. Then, for the 2005 Shanghai MS-SD Conference, I invited him (at the age of 89) as a senior advisor to attend the conference. He gave a thoughtful and warm greeting at the opening ceremony.

My deepest sympathy is sent to the Japan Chapter and the Japanese people.

Qifan Wang

Professor Toshiro Shimada, professor emeritus at Meiji University (Japan) and PhD in Commercial Science, started his academic career in the Aeronautical Engineering field. Thereafter, his interest was changed to Econometrics. He suggested to introduce Hydrodynamics' "shock wave" idea into Financial Engineering. Afterwards, he earned doctorate by the dissertation organizing this shock wave idea in the Economics field.

In 1966, Professor Shimada visited Harvard University as a Research Associate. He hoped to find colleagues who had an interest in feedback theories at that time. However, there were no lectures and appropriate person to discuss it. Fortunately, Harvard University had "cross registration system" with MIT so that he successfully found "Industrial Dynamics" in the MIT syllabus. He joined lectures, Industrial Dynamics 1 and 2 by Swanson and Roberts. This was the start of his system dynamics life.

After that, he wrote many practical system dynamics models and papers: stock price simulation, university governance, capital city governance, dental clinic management simulation, etc. All his papers gave a big impact on social science researchers and several papers were awarded by academic societies in Japan. Professor Shimada was always eager to introduce system dynamics to everyone and everywhere. His polite and warm-hearted character charmed all people.

He had many friend not only in Japan but also all over the world. Professor Shimada definitely contributed to the spread of system dynamics in Japan and making system dynamics connection between the world and Japan.

Yutaka Takahashi

Gert v. Kortzfleisch
I am sorry to report that Professor Gert v. Kortzfleisch, professor emeritus at Mannheim University, passed away on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at the age of 86. Professor v. Kortzfleisch was among the very first Europeans to study system dynamics (SD) with Professor Forrester. He started teaching SD on a regular basis in Mannheim in 1968. A multitude of master theses and dissertations were written under his supervision. Members of his former group include among others Erich Zahn, Peter Milling, Klaus Bellmann, and Peter Merten. His former students spread the ideas all over the country. Without him SD would not have reached its current status in Germany. Gert v. Kortzfleisch was also very active in the Club of Rome.

Peter Milling

Society News - New Products Available

Fireside Chat with Jay W. Forrester

It all began on a Nebraska ranch… Enjoy George Richardson’s wide-ranging and often humorous interview with Jay W. Forrester, now on DVD. Videotaped in 2001 at the 19th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Approximately one hour long. $11.00

The Electronic Oracle

The Society is happy to offer this new reprint of the original 1985 book by Donella H. Meadows and Jennifer M. Robinson. New forewords by Dennis Meadows and John Sterman are included. A terrific addition to any system dynamics library. “Is it worse for a flawed model to get through and influence policy, or for a valid and relevant model nevertheless to fail to influence events? Read this classic book for its hard-won critique of the possible (and still all too frequent) errors that can be made in the framing and modelling process. The technology has changed in the 25 years since it was written, but the lessons have not.” –Jonathan Rosenhead, London School of Economics Only $35.00

Shipping is additional. Please call or write for available rates and methods. New York and Massachusetts residents must add sales tax or attach exempt form. International orders: All local duties and taxes (customs) are paid by the recipient upon delivery.

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