Cooperative Modeling To Promote Systems Thinking In Applying The National Environmental Policy Act

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kristan Cockerill Ph.D., Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: When the National Environmental Policy Act was passed in 1969, it presupposed that there were clear ways to identify and then address environmental impacts from federal actions. Since then, it has become evident that environmental issues are grounded in complex systems, which are often difficult to “see” in traditional venues for gathering public input and informing decision makers. To address this, practitioners have been exploring collaborative modeling using system dynamics as a method for promoting systems thinking in a variety of decision venues. Historically applied in the business world, system dynamics has expanded into other arenas, including natural resource management. Cooperative modeling combines principles of collaboration with system dynamics to link relevant physical and social systems. In this approach, a multidisciplinary team convenes to engage in dialogue, to identify key variables for a particular issue, to identify relevant data, and to construct a systems-based computer model that helps team members “see” the complexity inherent in the system. Results from these experiences suggest that participants develop a deeper level of understanding about the policy issue, increase their agreement about root problems, and generate sound information about the issue being addressed. This article suggests that cooperative modeling can be an effective tool to meet both the letter and the spirit of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Additional Information

Cockerill, K. (2010). ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEWS & CASE STUDIES: Cooperative Modeling to Promote Systems Thinking in Applying the National Environmental Policy Act. Environmental Practice, 12(2), 127-133. doi:10.1017/S1466046610000104. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2010
National Environmental Policy Act, collaborative modeling, system dynamics, systems thinking

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