Abstract for: Combining Group Model Building and Participatory Rural Appraisal in Southeast Rural India

Interest in group model building has increased as a means to increase stakeholder involvement in the modeling process. However, most reported efforts have focused on involving policy makers and managers in the modeling process. Extending group model building to include marginalized communities such as people living in poverty and forest dependent communities raises a number of methodological issues about the nature of participation and modeling. Addressing these issues is critical to advancing the practice of participatory group model building techniques, and more generally, the application of system dynamics to addressing problems such as energy, environment, and health across diverse communities. This paper takes up the challenge by drawing on field experiences in rural India to develop a methodological approach that combines participatory rural appraisal development methods with group model building to better understand problems such as declining soil fertility and availability of fuelwood.