Abstract for: What Does It Take to Be Good Stewards of the Systems That Shape Our Lives Together?

In an era of escalating adversity and injustice, our future well-being depends upon our ability to navigate the complex systems that shape our lives together. For 20+ years, I have repeatedly turned to System Dynamics (SD) to see through that complexity. I will summarize firsthand observations as a champion of SD projects within two premiere health organizations: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1990-2011) and ReThink Health (2011-present). I will share an insider’s view about what it takes to infuse dynamic understanding among those who influence population health and well-being. By spotlighting illustrative projects (ranging from simple maps and stories to multi-million dollar, industrial-strength simulation models), I will show how SD practitioners bring a rare mix of talents and tools that inform our quest to thrive together. They help changemakers see the systems that influence population well-being, while also inspiring them to rethink their roles as interdependent stewards of those systems. I have witnessed SD projects yield valuable insights and shift institutional priorities. Unfortunately, limited capacity undercuts the field’s full potential. But as outdated, fragmented systems collapse, SD can grow and enable a rising cadre of changemakers to be better stewards of an equitable, thriving future.