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Message from Incoming Society President

Message from Incoming Society President

by | Jan 1, 2019

Dear fellow members of the System Dynamics Society,

Martin-pic2In late 2003, I attended my first System Dynamics conference. It was the first Latin American System Dynamics conference – upon becoming a member of the System Dynamics Society earlier that year, I had received a message from Roberta Spencer – then the Executive Director of the Society – calling my attention to that conference because I live in Chile. One of the people I met at that conference was Ignacio Martinez-Moyano. Yesterday, Ignacio turned from President to Past President, and for 365 days it is my turn now to serve you and the Society as President: some people have stayed with the Society for quite some time!

This is the opportunity for me to say “¡Gracias!” to Ignacio, as well as Len Malczynski – the former Past President – and all the officers and members of the Policy Council and members of the Standing Committees who have finished their term yesterday. Let me also say “thank you” to all those who keep contributing and those whose term is just starting today: by giving of your time, you make the Society what it is and you have an important influence on what the Society becomes – your collaboration is essential.

With our new Executive Director and the team at CapHill, we will continue the “transition”, reviewing and improving our current structures, policies and activities in order to progress in our objectives as Society:

  • to identify, extend and unify knowledge contributing to the understanding of feedback control systems;
  • to promote the design of structures and policies to improve the behavior of such systems;
  • to promote the development of the field of system dynamics and the free interchange of information about systems as they are found in all fields of endeavor;
  • to promote the dissemination of information on such topics to the general public, and
  • to encourage and develop educational programs in the behavior of systems.

In some aspects, the world is changing and the System Dynamics Society needs to adapt to changing needs and wishes of its members. What are the capacities which you – the members – wish to develop in terms of understanding feedback systems, and how can the Society help you in your quest?

At the same time, the world is slow to change in other aspects: system dynamics is still not a regular topic in education – be it K-12 or at the college level – and its market share in policy-making methodologies is still far way from what is described in our vision of the field. Also, huge portions of mankind do not grow up in English-speaking countries. How can the System Dynamics Society help informing other scientific and policy making communities about what high-quality system dynamics consists of, so we can help to build bridges into these communities? How can the Society help increase the coverage of high quality teaching and learning at all levels of educational systems and not be restricted to English-speaking countries?

These are big questions, and no definitive answer will be known in the next 364 days. However, we need to have the courage to face these questions without wavering, exactly because it will take a long time to work out and implement effective answers.

This is a great opportunity for each of us to make a small contribution. This is an open field, and you are free to think up candid answers – and even other important questions. You surely have an opinion about what can be helpful. You surely have an idea of how your own work relates to that. Being an association made up of volunteers, our future as System Dynamics Society depends on members saying what they need, but also giving their thoughts, their actions and their time.

So if you have questions, ask me, another Policy Council officer or member, a member of a Standing Committee or the Executive Director and the CapHill team. You can find them on the Society’s website. If you want to contribute to one of the many tasks of the Policy Council or a Committee, please get in touch with us. If you have questions concerning an application field or your local area, get in touch with the respective Special Interest Group or Chapter – you can use the forum on the Society’s website. If you want to propose a possible action and participate in making it happen, do not hesitate: this is your System Dynamics Society, with a lot of space for diversity and your participation is wanted.


Martin Schaffernicht

2019 President, System Dynamics Society