Abstract for: Practice reflections on engaging communities for social change with system dynamics

Effecting social change requires a deep understanding of the conditions and complex systems that create the problems we seek to change. While system dynamics provides unique perspectives and tools for building understanding of complex social issues, deep understanding is necessary but not sufficient for social change. Traditions such as social work, community organizing and community based participatory research emphasize that understanding must be cultivated alongside communities, requiring investment in capability development, ownership of the problem and methods by communities, and prioritizing deepening participation over time. In this presentation, we draw on practice examples of engaging communities through SD to explore social issues to highlight the unique challenges of working to effect social change. We share a set of takeaways for SD practitioners wanting to use or deepen their practice with communities.