Abstract: At the University of Bergen in Norway, educating students to use computer models and to think systemically about social and economic problems began in the 1970s. The International Masters Program in System Dynamics was established in 1995, and a Ph.D. program began a few years later. Student enrolment doubled in 2010 with the establishment of the European Master Program in System Dynamics. International diversity has been a hallmark of the Bergen program; each year, students come from about 30 different countries and more than 95% of the degrees have been awarded to students from outside of Norway. However, a Bergen systems education is not confined to a classroom in Norway. Projects in developing countries, emerging economies, and developed countries have taken the systems perspective and modeling tools on the road and, increasingly, online. Whatever the delivery mode, the goal is the same: capacity building among international students, planners and managers, and local stakeholders. This paper describes the Bergen program and its impact on systems thinking and modeling throughout the world.
Abstract: Sustainable urban development requires a long-term sector-integrative approach. This paper proposes a method of system analysis and partial simulation for urban structures for this purpose. It couples a discussion-based holistic approach for systems analysis and modelling of urban structures with quantitative modelling and simulation of partial scenarios that serve to examine specific questions regarding the long-term development of urban structures. In the first part, the application in the City Lab Nuremberg West, a multidisciplinary urban research laboratory, serves to develop the methodology and its illustration. The main objective is to examine the transition of the existing underperforming quarter to a sustainable and livable urban environment. Scenario-based experiments with respect to development paths determine robustness and risks of different configurations. The second part of the paper describes the transfer of the methodology to education. The approach serves to teach students in the Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Building master course program an integrative way of planning a sustainable built environment. The definition of educational objectives concerning the students’ understanding and management of systemic interdependencies of sustainability help assess the use of the method in the classroom. The aim is to provide them with the competence to develop strategies for complex situations while planning a sustainable built environment.
Abstract: We offer a reflection on our own praxis as designers and developers of a learning system for mature-age students through the Open University (OU) UK’s internationally recognised supported-open learning approach. The learning system (or course or module), which required an investment in the range of £0.25–0.5 million to develop, thus reflects our own history (traditions of understanding), the history of the context and the history of cyber-systemic thought and praxis including our own engagement with particular cyber-systemic lineages. This module, “Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction” was first studied by around 100 students in 2010 as part of a new OU Masters Program on Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) and is now in its fourth presentation to around 100 students. Understanding and skills in systemic inquiry, action and interaction are intended learning outcomes. Through their engagement with the module and each other’s perspectives, students develop critical appreciation of systems practice and social learning systems, drawing on their own experiences of change. Students are practitioners from a wide range of domains. Through activities such as online discussions and blogging, they ground the ideas introduced in the module in their own circumstances and develop their own community by pursuing two related systemic inquiries. In this process, they challenge themselves, each other and the authors as learning system designers. We reflect on what was learnt by whom and how and for what purposes.
Abstract: The scaling of respiratory metabolism with body size in animals is considered by many to be a fundamental law of nature. An apparent corollary of this law is the scaling of physiologic time with body size, implying that physiologic time is separate and distinct from clock time. However, these are only two of the many allometry relations that emerge from empirical studies in the physical, social and life sciences. Herein, we present a theory of allometry that provides a foundation for the allometry relation between a network function and the size that is entailed by the hypothesis that the fluctuations in the two measures are described by a scaling of the joint probability density. The dynamics of such networks are described by the fractional calculus, whose scaling solutions entail the empirically observed allometry relations.
Abstract: Systems science is defined in general fashion, and a brief background is provided that lists some of the systems science-related societies, conferences, journals, research institutes, and educational programs. The Systems Science Graduate Program at Portland State University in Portland, OR, USA, is described in detail, including its history, curriculum, students, faculty, and degrees granted. Dissertation topics are summarized via word diagrams created from dissertation titles over the years. MS degrees, student placement, and undergraduate courses are also mentioned, and future plans for the program are described including its support for sustainability education.
Abstract: Educational programs leading to degrees in system dynamics are rare and thus of critical importance to the future of the field of system dynamics. However, to a large extent such programs have not yet been made transparent to the system dynamics community as a whole. The present article describes the design and rationale for undergraduate and graduate programs at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). The goal of the article is to invite feedback from the system dynamics community about our specific programs as well as to facilitate wider discussion about the appropriate content, design, and pedagogy of degree programs and courses in system dynamics.