Abstract for: Science Meets Policy Practice

Recent discussions in system dynamics have raised questions about the scientific acceptability of system dynamics and impact of system dynamics on social problems. This paper describes two different projects in the area of mental health services research—a research study recognized for its science and consulting project making an impact on the policy process—and the institutional structures forming the university-agency-state partnerships. Together, the two projects helped create a community with greater awareness of system dynamics, interest in asking new questions from a system dynamics perspective, and motivation to pursue additional system dynamics projects related to research and policy. Key features of the individual projects, Center for Mental Health Services Research, Alliance for Building Capacity, and the community are discussed. The paper concludes with implications for future work in mental health services research and system dynamics in the nonprofit sector.