Abstract for: Reports from the Field: Assessing the art and science of participatory environmental modeling

Since the early work of Tansley (1935) and others we have embraced the concept that an ecosystem is a synergy of its parts and the relationship between those parts. Many science-centric approaches have been developed to address ecosystem management while at the same time taking into account the needs of the public. Participatory environmental modeling that uses system dynamics is an effective process for facilitating the integration of ecosystem science and social concerns. Using the art of facilitation and the science of model building the methodology creates a common language that integrates various types of information into simulation models. This paper describes a diversity of case studies, modeling and facilitation technique, and the inventiveness of practitioners who adjust their efforts to the needs of the stakeholders and the environmental problems they are facing. Participatory modelers who use system dynamics create customized platforms through which stakeholders can simultaneously explore their system, stressors to that system, potential tipping points, whether it is fragile or resilient, and any variety of potential policies that address the environment, social concerns, and long-term sustainability.