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Dana Meadows Award

The Dana Meadows Award of the System Dynamics Society is given annually for the best paper by a student presented at the annual System Dynamics Conference. Established in 2001, the prize celebrates and recognizes high-quality student work in the field of System Dynamics. In addition to an Award winner, several papers may be selected for honorable mention. The Award winner will receive a cash prize of US $2500. The winner may receive up to US$1500 for conference registration plus travel expenses. Honorable Mention recipients will receive a cash prize of US $500. Students are strongly encouraged to attend the conference and present their work. Only under exceptional circumstances will the winner or honorable mentions be recognized without attendance. A winner who is unable to attend will not receive travel or registration compensation.


An eligible student is anyone who, at the time of writing the manuscript, is enrolled in an accredited program of study in any subject, and is not a previous winner of the Award. The paper can be co-authored with other eligible students. If such a co-authored paper is selected as the winner, the authors will share the prize equally. Papers may also be co-authored with a non-student (such as a faculty advisor or consultant), but only if accompanied by a statement from the advisor that the intellectual content arises from the student’s own work. In all such cases, the student must appear as the first author and non-students do not receive a share of the prize. Any paper authored by an eligible student and accepted for the conference can be considered for the Award, whether presented in a plenary, parallel, or poster session.

Nomination Procedure

To be considered for the Award you should follow the self-nomination procedure when you submit your paper to the conference, or no later than the conference submission deadline. You will be asked to affirm that you meet the requirements for the prize and agree to the review terms. If your paper is co-authored, you will be asked to identify which authors are students. Non-student co-authors must each submit a signed statement to the Society as part of the application, indicating that the student author(s) is(are) responsible for the content of the paper, and the intellectual content of the paper derives from the work of the student(s). The statement should specify submission number and the title of the paper. A sample statement is available for reference in the Submission System.

The Paper

An Award-worthy paper will show creativity, originality, and clarity in the way that SD is applied to a problem and communicated to its audience. Papers should meet all the standards of good SD work including dynamic structures with feedback, evidence-based reasoning and realistic decision-making rules for the actors and entities (in a model-based paper). The following guidelines should be used as a checklist to be completed before submitting a paper for the Award.

Model-based papers should meet the Preferred Model Reporting Requirements as detailed in the preceding document link and must include a separate file with the fully documented model able to reproduce all of the runs mentioned in the paper.

Methodology- and Experiment-based papers should include the reasons for the research, the fully documented steps required to replicate or establish the reproducibility of the results reported, and any significant improvement or novelty of the results relative to the current state of knowledge.

Papers must not exceed 7,500 words. A word count must be provided immediately below the abstract.However, essential documentation or model code can appear in a technical appendix or additional files without adding to the word count.

Faculty Advisor Comments

The Award Committee encourages the student’s Faculty Advisor to submit a brief statement of evaluation and support for the paper. The Dana Meadows Student Award is funded through an endowment established by the System Dynamics Society. The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of all those donors who have contributed to the fund and in particular Jane and Allen Boorstein who generously helped establish the award in 2001. 

A Note About the Award

The Society’s Dana Meadows Award symbolizes the Society’s commitment to students in two ways. It brings recognition to the very best student work. It also honors, in an enduring way, the life and work of Dana Meadows.

Dana Meadows is remembered as an eloquent sustainability advocate and environmental writer. But she was also, and arguably foremost, a teacher — one exceptionally committed to her students and their development not only intellectually but in all ways. Honoring Dana through this Award recognizes her work as an inspiring teacher and mentor of young people, and sets a standard for what good modeling is. The Award will help develop the next generation of systems thinkers and modelers according to her ideals. Her unusually high level of integrity in all things extended to high standards for modeling, for documentation, and for exposing assumptions. The words of two of her (now distinguished) former students embody the spirit and intention of the Award:


“Dana knew better than most of us that the leverage points for changing a system often lie far from the symptoms of difficulty. She would understand that an application of system dynamics to issues apparently not connected to sustainability, including corporate applications, might very well promote her goals, not only her goals of creating a sustainable and just society but of promoting integrity and honesty in our analysis of problems, whatever and wherever they may be – that is, in the way we create and test our models, mental and formal.”

“On occasions when I might be tempted to cut corners in modeling work (what modeler hasn’t faced these), envisioning Dana across the table, posing her gentle but piercing queries, was one of the things that helped keep me honest.”

Dana Meadows Award Committee

Richard Dudley 2018-2022
Tom Fiddaman (Chair) 2018-2022
Florian Kapmeier 2020-2024
Krystyna Stave 2016-2020
John Sterman 2020-2025

Dana Meadows Award Winners

System Dynamics Admin
System Dynamics Admin