Abstract for:Community Education in System Dynamics for Sustainability

Expanding the Reach of System Dynamics:

System dynamics can be perceived as an intellectual discipline for evaluating industrial

systems or large-scale social systems challenges. This perception can lead young people, nontraditionally

educated or much of the general public not to seek out system dynamics to

qualitatively evaluate small business choices or community challenges. Yet we know that

system dynamics can be particularly valuable in social and community applications: even

simple causal mapping can help social actors to strategically identify reinforcing loops that can

dramatically increase their impact and to identify target leverage points. System Dynamics

professionals have increasingly applied system dynamics at community levels, through

participatory scenario workshops1 and Community Based System Dynamics approaches.2

With these examples in mind, the question arose of how to teach system dynamics to

youth in and out of high school, university students and underemployed individuals, who could

then apply system dynamics to their own local challenges. We developed single short classes

that could directly share key methods and tools of system dynamics and directly apply them to

small business development and understanding complex social challenges at a city-scale.