At the System Dynamics Society, we understand the vital role of mentorship in shaping the future of our field. That’s why we offer four different options to support individuals looking to learn and apply systems thinking and System Dynamics skills. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to enhance your expertise, our mentorship programs provide tailored guidance and support to help you achieve your goals.
Become a mentor
Join our 25+ seasoned mentors and help build the skills of the next generation of modelers. You will be matched with those you can best support. Meetings can be aranged at your convenience wiht your assigned mentees.
Intensive long-term coaching to build a systems thinking map or a System Dynamics model
No membership required. Open to all.
Peer mentoring typically involves students who join together early in their academic careers and continue to support each other throughout their education and into their careers. These groups are formed around common interests and geographic proximity, and they meet regularly to share their work. Typically, group meetings last between 1-1.5 hours every 1-3 weeks, with breaks over the summer. A group leader emerges to organize the meetings and agenda, preferably on a regular basis with advance notice.
Peer mentoring groups may also choose to receive support from an experienced mentor who will listen, ask questions, and provide insight and suggestions for the members’ work. This mentor does not lead the group but rather serves as a resource for the group’s members. Many peer mentoring groups continue even after graduation, providing ongoing support and guidance as members build their careers.
This program was developed by the Student Chapter under the leadership of Laura Black and Larry Gottschamer.
For those seeking long-term tutoring and support. Membership required.
As a benefit of membership, Society members have access to one-on-one mentoring from experienced practitioners in the field. This program is designed for individuals seeking regular coaching to build a causal map or System Dynamics simulation modeling. Mentoring may cover any or all stages of modeling, as well as advice on writing and presentations.
Meetings typically last one hour per week, with the preparation required by both mentor and mentee in between. The relationship can continue for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the needs of the mentee. This program is best suited for those seeking intensive tutoring and support.
Mentees should have prior experience with System Dynamics, such as having taken an introductory class or read a classic book on System Dynamics. They should also have experience with System Dynamics software and have learned the basic software mechanics experimenting with built-in example models. If you’re not yet ready for a mentor, check out our online course catalog, learning resources in our bookstore or free resources from our partner organization, the Creative Learning Exchange.
The One-on-one mentorship program was developed by Jack Homer and Gary Hirsch.
Short-Term Modeling Assistance
Advice and guidance for specific System Dynamics questions. Membership required.
Short-Term Modeling Assistance is a benefit offered to Society members year-round in addition to the conference. Members can obtain one-on-one coaching on specific System Dynamics modeling questions or receive guidance on whether System Dynamics is an appropriate method to approach a certain problem. This program is open to all levels of modeling background, from beginner to advanced, and can cover problem articulation, dynamic hypothesis, model formulation, model testing, or policy design and evaluation.
To access this benefit, fill out the Sign Up form and we will match you with a coach who shares your interests. It will be up to you and your coach to communicate and set up a time to meet.
This program is organized by Gary Hirsch and Rod MacDonald.
Publishing Assistance workshop (PAW)
Held at the annual conference for those aiming at publishing their work
Not available at the 2023 conference
The Publishing Assistance Workshop (PAW) offers guidance to prospective authors on developing manuscripts using systems thinking and modeling for submission to top academic journals. A panel of System Dynamics experts with impressive publication records will share suggestions for navigating the journal publishing process.
If you’re interested in publishing your System Dynamics work in academic journals, attend this event. The first half of the workshop is open to all conference attendees and includes short presentations by a subset of the panel members with tips on publishing System Dynamics research in top journals. The presentations will be followed by an open Q&A session.
The second half of the workshop is exclusively for participants who submit working papers and receive invitations to the second half. During this portion of the workshop, invited participants will have small roundtable discussions and receive developmental suggestions for improving their working papers.
The Publishing Assistance Workshop will be held during the main conference, and further details about the time and location will be provided once the conference program is finalized. We encourage advanced doctoral students, post-docs, and early-career faculty members to apply for the second half of the workshop.
This program is organized by Shayne Gary. Panel members include those below
- Andreas Größler
- Birgit Kopainsky
- Coty Gonzales
- David Ford
- Edward Anderson
- Hazhir Rahmandad
- John Sterman
- Martin Kunc
- Peter Hovmand
- Rogelio Oliva
- Scott Rockart
- Shayne Gary
- Yaman Barlas
Andreas Größler is a Professor and Head of the Department of Operations Management at the University of Stuttgart. He is the editor of System Dynamics Review and has published widely in top operations management journals. His research interests include production technologies, operations strategies for long-term and sustainable development of value creation within firms, and system dynamics. Andreas received his doctoral degree and habilitation from Mannheim University.
Birgit Kopainsky is a Professor in System Dynamics in the Department of Geography at the University of Bergen, Norway. Her research explores the role that system dynamics analysis and modeling techniques play in facilitating transformation processes in social-ecological systems, such as the transition towards sustainable agri-food systems on local, national, and international levels. Birgit is particularly interested in engaging with a wide range of stakeholders by creatively adapting proven tools and techniques from systems thinking and system dynamics modeling to advance decision-making in social-ecological systems and to achieve breakthrough moments of understanding for those stakeholders to become champions of change towards resilience and sustainability. She has published widely in a range of science and sustainability journals.
Cleotilde (Coty) Gonzalez is a Research Professor of Decision Sciences in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences and the Founding Director of the Dynamic Decision Making Laboratory (DDMLab) at Carnegie Mellon University. She is also affiliated with the Security and Privacy Institute (CyLab), the Center for Behavioral Decision Research (CBDR), and other research centers at Carnegie Mellon University. Her work focuses on the experimental studies and computational representations of the cognitive processes involved in decisions from experience in dynamic environments.
David Ford is the Beavers Charitable Trust/William F. Urban ’41 Professor in Construction Engineering and Management at Texas A&M University. His research areas include sustainability in built infrastructure, managerial real options, construction as a product development process, project management process design, and system dynamics. David has published widely in top engineering journals and also in the System Dynamics Review.
Edward Anderson is the Wright Centennial Professor for Management of Innovative Technology and Director of the McCombs Healthcare Innovation Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin. His research areas include: computer simulation, information economics, knowledge management, operations management, outsourcing business process, quality management, service management, supply chain management, and system dynamics
Hazhir Rahmandad is the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science and an Associate Professor of System Dynamics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His research shows how complex organizational dynamics lead to heterogeneity in organizational practices and outcomes. In another stream of work, Hazhir has studied public health problems, including obesity and depression dynamics, and compared different modeling methodologies in application to epidemics. He also contributes to expanding the dynamic modeling toolbox through advancing parameter estimation and validation methods for dynamic models. Hazhir has published in diverse journals including Management Science, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Strategy Science, Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Obesity, and System Dynamics Review. Hazhir holds a BS in industrial engineering from the Sharif University of Technology and a Ph.D. in management with a System Dynamics concentration from MIT.
John Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a Professor at the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. He is also the Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative. John’s research centers on improving decision-making in complex systems, including corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, environmental sustainability, and climate change. He is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book, Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award-winning textbook, Business Dynamics. John is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has twice been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best-published work in System Dynamics. He holds an AB in engineering and environmental systems from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in System Dynamics from MIT.
Martin Kunc is a Professor of Business Analytics/Management Science at the University of Southampton, UK. His research interests include business analytics, strategic modeling, managerial capabilities, behavioral strategic decision making, and system dynamics. Martin was previously a faculty member at the University of Warwick and obtained his Ph.D. from London Business School. He has published widely in Operations Research journals, Strategic Management Journal, System Dynamics Review, and other top journals.
Peter Hovmand is a Professor of Medicine at the Center for Community Health Integration and also a Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. He previously founded and led the Brown School’s Social System Design Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. Peter’s research focuses on advancing methods for understanding and preventing structural violence underlying gender inequality, structural racism, and more broadly, social determinants of health across a variety of outcomes, from pediatric obesity and interpersonal violence to household air pollution and cancer. He has a degree in electrical engineering and mathematics with an MSW and Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences in Social Work and Community Ecological Psychology and cognate in Women’s Studies/Feminist Philosophy.
Rogelio Oliva is the Bob and Kelly Jordan Professor of Business in the Department of Information and Operations Management at the Mays Business School, Adjunct Professor at MIT’s Zaragoza Logistics Center, and Research Affiliate at MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. His research explores how behavioral and social aspects of an organization interact with its technical components to determine the firm’s operational performance. His current research interests include behavioral operations management, retail and service operations, and the transition that product manufacturers are making to become service providers. His research has been published in many top journals, including Management Science, Organization Science, Journal of Operations Management, California Management Review, and Production and Operations Management.
Scott Rockart is an Associate Professor of Practice in Strategy at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. His research focuses on policies for repeated decision-making (e.g., decisions about pricing, investment, research, and product offerings). His research has appeared in Management Science, System Dynamics Review, and Strategic Management Journal. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science. Scott obtained his Ph.D. from MIT in behavioral and policy sciences and management science.
Shayne Gary is a Professor at UNSW Business School in Sydney Australia. His research examines how differences in mental models, decision rules, and strategies lead to differences in firm performance over time. Shayne investigates these issues through experiments, in-depth fieldwork, and system dynamics simulation modeling. His research has been published in many top journals, including Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, and The Accounting Review. Shayne was awarded the 2016 Jay Wright Forrester Award and is a Managing Editor of the System Dynamics Review. He is a founding member and former Chair of the Behavioral Strategy Interest Group in the Strategic Management Society. Shayne holds a BSc in Management Science from MIT and a Ph.D. in Strategic Management from London Business School.
Yaman Barlas is a Professor of Industrial Engineering at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul where he is the director of the SESDYN research laboratory. His research areas include the credibility of simulation models, SD method, systems science, modeling of socioeconomic and medical problems, and simulation as a learning/training platform. Yaman is a founding member and a former President of the System Dynamics Society. He has served in various editorial roles in different publications, including most recently as Executive Editor of System Dynamics Review (SDR). SDR’s impact factor increased substantially under Yaman’s watch as Executive Editor. He received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in industrial and systems engineering.
Become a Mentor
Are you an experienced practitioner of systems thinking and System Dynamics? Consider becoming a mentor and supporting students of the field. Mentors donate their time to the Society and typically commit to a long-term relationship of support – lasting months or even years. They may work with one or more students on a one-to-one basis or support a peer mentoring group that can benefit from their experience and skills.
Mentors typically spend one hour a week with each student or group. Light preparation is required for each meeting, with the student or group leader responsible for arranging meetings, presenting their work, and asking questions. In some cases, a mentor may become deeply involved in a mentee’s work – in one instance, a mentor became a co-author on a paper.
Mentorship support can be substantive and technical, focusing on the material presented and even digging into equations, or it can focus on suggestions for the process itself. Mentors may reflect on scope, urge a student to write a paper, or suggest alternative methods should System Dynamics not be the best approach for the mentee’s topic.
Most mentor-mentee relationships will be remote, using email and video conferencing software such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Webex, Google Hangouts, or the Society’s Slack account.
We currently have more than 25 mentors available to provide support. Some are academics, others are practicing consultants. They all have substantial experience and represent a diverse array of industries and functional areas. They are from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are experienced with various types of System Dynamics software: Vensim, Stella/ithink, Powersim, and Anylogic.
What attendees say about the Mentorship Programs
I had a truly remarkable experience with the System Dynamics Society’s mentorship program, which I heard of by chance during a society webinar. At the time, I was working on a two-and-a-half-year research project on adolescent overweight and obesity in Europe. Although I was not new to System Dynamics, I was eager to learn more about building highly evidence-based models using data. We had a model, but the available data from a large pan-European survey didn’t seem to fit it. I applied to the mentorship program and was lucky to have Jack Homer, whose publications in using System Dynamics for public health I was very well familiar with, as my mentor. Jack was incredibly generous in sharing his knowledge and skills and devoted a considerable amount of his time to mentoring me. We produced two scientific papers, one in a leading obesity journal and another in System Dynamics Review. Not only did I learn a great deal from Jack about using data to develop higher-quality models, but I also gained insights into work ethics, research approaches, and scientific writing. There is a lot of art to System Dynamics modeling, and having an opportunity to work closely with an expert like Jack is crucial and cannot be substituted by any formal training. It was an exciting journey! Thank you, Jack and the System Dynamics society!