A Banquet of Consequences: Interactive Simulations to Support Climate Negotiations

Hands painted with world map


John Sterman
Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management and Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group, MIT Sloan School of Management


September 27, 2012


12–1:15 p.m. PT


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street, Room 2309
Santa Monica, CA

About the Program

Why is the world so slow to address the risks posed by climate change? The problem is not imperfect scientific understanding, but a failure of systems thinking throughout society, including scientists, policymakers, negotiators, the media and the public at large.

Dr. Sterman discusses the widespread but erroneous mental models people use to think about complex systems and how these can be overcome with rigorous but accessible systems thinking methods. To illustrate, he will present fast and flexible interactive "management flight simulators" that provide people with the ability to discover, for themselves, the complex dynamics of the climate and assess the likely consequences of proposals to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The models are freely available to all and are widely used in education, and by businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders. Sterman will also discuss how these models are used by senior policymakers and climate negotiators in the United States and other nations.

About the Speaker

John D. Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor in Computer Science, a Professor of System Dynamics and Engineering Systems, and the Director of the System Dynamics Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His research includes systems thinking and organizational learning, computer simulation of corporate strategy and public policy issues, and environmental sustainability. 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.

Sterman'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 has pioneered the development of "management flight simulators" of corporate and economic systems, which are now used by corporations, universities, and governments around the world. His research ranges from the dynamics of organizational change and the implementation of sustainable improvement programs to climate change and the implementation of policies to promote a sustainable world.

About the IDSS

The International Development Speaker Series is supported by PRGS and Research and Policy in International Development, a research center within RAND Labor & Population.

How to Attend

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About PRGS

PRGS is unique in American higher education. It was founded in 1970 as one of the original eight graduate programs in public policy analysis. PRGS was the only program specializing in the Ph.D. It is also the only one based at a public policy research institute—the Santa Monica, California-based RAND Corporation—which invented many of the analytical tools of public policy analysis. Learn more at www.prgs.edu

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