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The Innovations in Collaborative Modeling group hosted two conferences, June 2015 and June, 2016. We invited faculty and students, with or without expertise in a variety of modeling techniques and approaches to systems thinking, and community members who were interested in learning how to more effectively address complex community problems using systems thinking and modeling.
After introducing the first Participatory Modeling Field School in Detroit in 2019, we again invite faculty, students, and community partners to participate in a virtual Field School. The Field School takes a more active approach to learning and features three and a half days of hands-on workshops on qualitative, semi-quantitative, and quantitative participatory modeling methods, as well as best practices for effectively engaging the community as modeling team members. Sessions are facilitated by faculty and community partners with extensive experience in community-based research and participatory modeling.
Many of the most challenging social and environmental problems are generated by complex systems. Certain features of complex systems (e.g., non-linear relationships, feedback loops, and delays between cause and effect) make their behavior counterintuitive, meaning that actions taken to resolve problems frequently either make the problems worse or generate entirely new problems. Quantitative systems modeling consists of a variety of techniques that represent the behavior of complex systems mathematically using computer simulation software. Such modeling can help to clarify the often puzzling dynamics of complex systems, leading to more effective problem solving efforts.