Practitioner Profile: Hyunjung Kim, California State University, Chico
Welcome to Practitioner Profiles, a series of up-close blog-length interviews with experienced System Dynamics practitioners. We have a standard set of 10 questions and let practitioners take the responses in any direction they choose. They tell us about who they are, how they got involved with the field, how they work with clients, and in what new directions they may be heading. A new profile will be posted every few weeks during 2021.
For today’s spotlight, we talked with Hyunjung Kim from California State University, Chico.
What kinds of SD project applications do you do at CSU Chico?
I teach and conduct system dynamics research in the areas of service delivery, environmental policy, and resource management. With a team of colleagues at the College of Business, we have incorporated SD into our undergraduate and graduate business curriculum. Between our capstone course in strategic decision making and the introductory system dynamics course, over 800 students get exposed to SD every year. My most recent SD research has been with the US Army Corps of Engineers, examining their flood risk management programs and identifying areas where Systems Thinking and SD modeling could be applied. We are also working on a game interface for them to accompany the modeling.
What is distinctive in your approach to SD projects?
My research involves developing and applying formal methods for using qualitative data in system dynamics. It is important to understand perspectives of diverse stakeholders and systematically generate insights from their input. When it comes to teaching, it is important that my students have a positive first experience with SD so that they are motivated to explore it beyond the course.
In what way is your situation for SD modeling at CSU Chico perhaps different from that of academics elsewhere?
Our institution focuses on undergraduate education, and most of my students will go into the workforce soon after graduating. It is important for me to find SD topics that are relevant to my students and teach those topics in a way that can be easily understood and retained over time.
What other SD activities have you been involved in lately?
Currently, I am developing system dynamics learning materials for an exciting project called the Diaries During and After the Lockdown. The project was started by a group of SD modelers and an epidemiologist who created a blog targeted for a non-modeling audience. Using storytelling, it communicates insights from a system dynamics model of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How did you originally get interested in SD, and when was that?
It was during my graduate school orientation at the University at Albany. I was sitting next to a professor with a big smile who asked me why I wanted to study public administration. I told him I wanted to understand policy outcomes before actually implementing a policy, and he said, “Oh, then you should study system dynamics!” That was my first encounter with my mentor George Richardson.
What individuals and organizations are inspirations to you?
The Thursday Group members! The Thursday Group is a system dynamics peer mentoring group, and we have been holding weekly online meetings since 2011. This supportive group inspires me with research ideas and provides collaboration opportunities and feedback on my work.
What accomplishments are you proud of?
I find it rewarding when my former students tell me how much impact the systems perspective has had on them in their profession, and how much they appreciate what they got out of the SD courses.
What challenges have you experienced?
Communicating technical aspects of SD to people with little to no background can be a barrier to reaching a broader audience. Part of the hope of our current COVID Diaries project is to communicate these types of system insights.
What kinds of SD work would you like to be doing over the next 5 years?
I would like to focus on communicating system dynamics to a broader audience with no modeling background. I want to promote general public understanding and to use SD, with rigor and quality, on a daily basis.
Have other questions or comments? Leave a comment below or reach out to Hyunjung Kim.
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