Abstract for: Strengthening Links Between Anthropologists and System Dynamicists: Participatory Group Modeling & Natural Resources

In this brief communication, we argue for more systematic and self-conscious attention, within the field of system dynamics, to the process of knowledge sharing for the purposes of model construction. After explaining our rationale, we provide a number of examples showing how various groups of people---often those with central roles in the problems being modeled---are marginalized, their voices mute or silent. We recognize the valuable work of a number of SD modelers, emphasizing their work in western, often corporate, worlds. However, there are special problems that emerge when important members of the would-be client population are comparatively powerless, under-educated or even illiterate, as is the case in many international natural resource contexts---contexts likely to become more important as attempts to cope with climate change increase. We then provide some practical suggestions for addressing such communication problems. We believe that SD can be of great value in the analysis of natural resource conflicts, climate change mitigation and adaptation, the development of improved management systems, and in policy formulation and evaluation. The anthropological perspective may provide insights that will allow for better integration of the views of marginalized peoples into SD models.