PAD 624

Lectures, Readings and Assignments

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System Dynamics Skills Readings Due Assignments Due


Aug 28 GR
Course overview and logistics. Introduction to System Dynamics
Foundations of System Dynamics
Dynamics, feedback loops, and stocks and flows. System dynamics approach to policy analysis. The endogenous point of view. None None


Sep 4 GR, ER

A case study in systems thinking:
the Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance
Approaching a real-world case with and without systems thinking and simulation. Sources of policy resistance. Model: GORA GORA case

Feedback and circular causality
USA today article


Sep 11 ER
A first experience with simulation for policy analysis: Dynamics of the Kaibab deer population. Mental models and formal models. Models in the policy process. Editing and simulating in Vensim. Drawing conclusions from model-based analyses. BD §1, §5.1-5.4. FT §2 Read. Download Vensim PLE from Bring laptop to class if you have one, or share with a classmate.
Download Kaibab model for class.


Sep 18
*** No Class ***      
Sep 25
*** No Class ***      


Oct 2 ER
Introduction to simulation tools. Model formulation in Vensim
Urban dynamics.
Understanding simulation.Vensim mechanics. Diagrams and equations. Structure of exponential growth & decay. Nonlinear effects & S-shaped growth. Beginning a catalog of structures. BD §2.5, 3, [2.2]; Dynamics of spells of poverty
Download Spells
Oct 9 GR
Formulating simple urban models Material and information delays. Smooths. Endogenous dynamics. Compensating feedback. Iterative model building. Models: BSN, POPBSN, URBAN1. BD §4.1, 4.2 [4.3] Urban model simulations & analysis


Oct 16 GR
Project dynamics in ISDM Model conceptualization. The concept of a dynamic hypothesis. Iterative model building.
Models: Project1a, Project1b, Project1c, Project1d, Project1
BD (§5.1-5.4), §5.5-5.6, [ISDM, §2.4, 4.4] Conceptual Exercises


Oct 23 GR
World Dynamics & Sustainability World Dynamic in-class exercises
Download WORLD2
A controversial, and consequently instructive, model-based study by the founder of the field. Building a world model together. Sustainability implications for business. BD §6 [§7] Improving the Project Model
Download the Project model


Oct 30 GR, ER

Epidemics and diffusion. Epidemic-like structures.
Model evaluation / validation.
Forrester & Senge Validation tests
Introduction to Easy Jet.

Generic diffusion structure: Epidemics, rumors, market penetration, the Bass model. Discussion of model evaluation / validation, building on World Dynamics. Do we ever know we are right? Is accuracy necessary before precision is useful?

Forrester & Senge

Validation as an Integrated Social Process

Epidemic modeling and policy simulation


Nov 6 ER, GR

Backlog WF mode
Backlog WF model w overtime

Debrief easy Jet.
Oscillations: Arise in balancing loops with at least two dynamically significant stocks.
BD §8, 9.1, 9.2, [9.3], 9.4

easy Jet assignment
Download easyJet model

easy Jet article by Don Sull


Nov 13 GR

Market Growth model
Nonlinear oscillations.
Commodity concept model
Meadows model

Lessons from the Market Growth model: Structure and dynamics of fixed and sliding goals.
Limit cycles. State-space graphs. Analyzing oscillations. Application to commodity cycles. Improving model structure.
BD §11.1-11.3 [11.4] Inventory/Workforce cycles first draft
Download Widgets1 model


Nov 20 GR

Serious games: Instructions for online Fishbanks game

Simulation games for learning about system dynamics and policy. The potential of the tragedy of the commons. BD §11.1-11.3 [11.4]

Inventory/Workforce cycles


Nov 27 GR
Approaches to conceptualization Problem focus, Problem dynamics, Context, Audience, and Purpose. Model boundaries: Temporal, Conceptual and Causal. [BD §20]

Fish Banks board game documentation

Fish Banks first draft


Dec 4 GR
Current issues in policy simulation. See Scripts in GMB, Advances in GMB, & Foundations again. Group model building. Systems thinking and modeling for policy implementation. BD §3; Randers Fish Banks model(s)
Dec 11
Optional dinner at the Richardson's Celebrating our successes.
6:00 p.m., 12 Pine Street, Delmar, NY 12054
[FT §6] Optional: Conceptualizing a model-based study

Key to readings:

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