Abstract for: Population Dynamics in History: Connecting Past, Present, and Future

This paper describes a project to develop a four-part high school curriculum using system dynamics modeling to show the effect of demographic change on society through four different epochs in U.S. history. Following in the path of such demographic models as Dr. Jay Forrester’s Urban and World models, this curriculum is designed to help high school students and their teachers experience the power of using system dynamics to look at historical events. The four simulations of the Population Dynamics series supplement existing high school history curricula while elucidating Dr. Forrester’s characteristics of complex systems. They are intended to introduce students to a variety of systems tools along with primary and secondary historical resources. This unique combination of tools offers students opportunities to actively reconstruct patterns of change in the past based on structural relationships that continue to exist and influence the present and future. This curriculum is an example of utilizing the depth of insight and experience with modeling generated by the system dynamics community to bring insight and learning into the K-12 arena.