An Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA

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9780970492111: An Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA

Why do we continue to make such little progress addressing our many pressing social concerns like homelessness, hunger, drug addiction and environmental threats? Is it the way we think? Find out answers to these questions in An Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA.

This book is a guide to learning systems thinking and to using the STELLA software. It is published by isee systems, inc., in business for 26 years, dedicated to improving the way the world works by creating systems thinking-based products that enable people to increase their capacity to think, learn, communicate, and act more systemically. There are really two guides that teach an introduction to systems thinking. The STELLA guide is geared more toward educators and researchers. The other guide is An Introduction to Systems Thinking with iThink, and that one is geared more toward business.

Whether they are first-time or experienced modelers, teachers, students, and researchers use STELLA to explore and answer endless questions like:

-- How does climate change influence an ecosystem over time?
-- Would Hamlet s fate have changed if he d killed Claudius earlier?
-- How do oil prices respond to shocks in supply and/or demand?
-- What will happen when the ozone layer is gone?
-- How do basic macroeconomic principles affect income and consumption?

Education and research are most exciting when they move out of the lecture hall and library and provide opportunity to create, experience, and see. STELLA software offers a practical way to dynamically visualize and communicate how complex systems and ideas really work.

This guide sets the stage by describing the language of systems thinking and applying it to the STELLA modeling process. You ll be introduced to classic stock and flow infrastructures common to many physical, biological and social issues. Critical thinking skills that are necessary to evolve our thinking, learning, and communicating capacities are defined. You'll be learning good systems thinking skills so that you can apply them effectively to your modeling -- a must-read for successfully executing the principles of systems thinking and simulation.

Sample models in the areas of life sciences, literature, mathematics, physical sciences and social sciences are available on the isee systems website. There are also models that run in a browser available for viewing and downloading. These include H1N1 Flu Outbreak, Distance and Time Problems, Predator-Prey Dynamics, Pharmacokinetics, Plant Succession Dynamics, Mystery on the Island of Borneo, Sustainable Shrimping, Temperature Control, Virtual Hamlet, and Distance and Time Problems.

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About the Author:

An Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA was written by Barry Richmond, consumate teacher and leader in the field of systems thinking/system dynamics and founder of isee systems. Barry's educational training culminated with his Ph.D. in System Dynamics from MIT in 1979. He then accepted a teaching position at Dartmouth College as an Assistant Professor in the Thayer School of Engineering. Barry was one of the most popular and well-respected teachers at Dartmouth for eight years. In 1984, he founded High Performance Systems (now isee systems), a software development and consulting business, with systems thinking as its foundation. Barry dedicated the rest of his life to teaching people all over the world how to live by systems thinking principles. His expertise was respected worldwide. He was granted the 1989 Jay Wright Forrester Award, a prestigious honor awarded by the System Dynamics Society. The award was for producing the STELLA software, his pioneering work, which revolutionized the system dynamics modeling process and opened computer simulation modeling to a far larger field of participants.

Review:

The second gift Barry gave us was the clarity of his thinking. His writing and his teaching were crystal clear. He could communicate to a very broad audience. He knew how to make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler. He wrote manuals (An Introduction to Systems Thinking with STELLA) that one could actually understand. For many of us in K-12, those manuals were our first textbooks. His manuals contained examples that applied systems thinking and system dynamics modeling to so many disciplines that a teacher was usually able to find an example that was appropriate to serve as a foundation for lessons in his or her classroom. With that simple, clear thinking, he created an elegant piece of software, STELLA, without which students at the pre-college level would not have had access to the power of system dynamics modeling. Its visual approach opened the world of systems thinking to both the students and the teachers at the K-12 level. He recognized the importance of having the leaders of the future conversant with system dynamics. With STELLA, students have described system dynamics behavior from models they have created that have impressed adults in business and academia. He has given many students a chance to express their understanding of complex issues, to think more deeply about problems, to understand behavior that would have been beyond their scope without the beautiful, visual tool to help them. As he improved the software, he listened to teachers regarding features they wanted, further enhancing its usability to students and teachers. --Diana M. Fisher and Lees Stuntz (2003). Barry Richmond's Gifts to K-12 Education, System Dynamics Society Conference 2003

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