Plenary Speaker

Bernard C. Patten
Regents Professor Emeritus, Odum School of Ecology
University of Georgia

Bernard C. PattenPatten retired from the University of Georgia in 2012. He is a leading figure in systems ecology. Working with his students, postdoctoral researchers and faculty colleagues at the University of Georgia, he developed a formal system theory of the environment that uses network mathematics to represent and analyze energy-matter flows and stocks in ecosystems. He used this framework to lead a 12-year systems ecology study of the Okefenokee Swamp. Patten was named a Regents Professor in 1984 in recognition of his distinguished and innovative scholarship.


Institutionalized Model-Making (IMM): State-Space Structuring of Stakeholder-Based Collaborative Environmental and Natural Resource Systems Modeling for Team-Building, Database Organization, Systems Analysis, Scientific and Management Decision-Making, and Outreach

Scientific R&D institutions can be organized around ongoing stakeholder-based collaborative modeling activities, designed to produce knowledge and data products to serve as permanent institutional assets to develop and organize information, set goals and priorities, build research and management teams, and facilitate planning, execution, and outreach activities.

Such collaborative modeling can be structured by state-space system theory.

Modeling has process and product phases. Both can be formatted by state-space theory. Grounding in formalism lends structure to both phases, and facilitates transitioning back and forth between phases.

Initial conceptual modeling, carried out in workshops and other interactive settings by expert and lay stakeholders, continues as an ongoing activity of the institution.

The modeling products, at any stage, are subject to continual revision and updating to incorporate changing goals, needs, concepts, databases, and understanding.

Foreseen characteristics and benefits of IMM include:

  • Team-building—facilitates and structures people interactions
  • Combined holism and reductionism built-in
  • Early process emphasis, later product emphasis
  • Captures and organizes knowledge state-of-the-art
  • Identifies areas of ignorance
  • Guides and structures research directions and priorities
  • Guides and structures management directions and priorities
  • Motivates and formats databases
  • Aids communication among constituents
  • Informs administrative decision-making
  • Holds the place for continuing revision and development

This paper presents:

  • A description of the elements of state-space theory
  • A description of state-space formatting in conceptual modeling workshops and later-stage modeling and systems analysis activities
  • A case study application of IMM to a complex ecosystem-based environmental impact assessment of brine disposal impacts in the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve