Director, Social System Design Lab, Brown School of Social Work
Washington University in St. Louis
Peter Hovmand is the founding director of the Brown School’s Social System Design Lab at Washington University in St. Louis. He received his MSW and PhD in social work from Michigan State University. His research focuses on advancing participatory modeling methods to engage and involve communities in the process of understanding systems and designing solutions using system dynamics. Dr. Hovmand has led participatory group model-building workshops domestically and internationally, including in rural and urban India, Mongolia, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Panama, and the United States. Application areas include early child and maternal health, childhood obesity, energetics and cancer, mental health, domestic violence, child welfare, household economic security, structural racism, educational equity, K-12 education, and the implementation and scale-up of health innovations, which he describes in his recent book, Community Based System Dynamics (2013, Springer). Hovmand’s work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Lupina Foundation, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Waters Foundation, and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Community Based System Dynamics: Lessons from the Field
Participatory systems modeling methods hold the promise of engaging and empowering communities toward collective action and impact by increasing awareness and understanding of complex systems. Despite this promise, actual experiences involve navigating a tradeoff between rigor and participation. Understanding how to negotiate these two ideals—rigor and participation—is critical to both community practice and research. This talk builds on a range of domestic and international examples from the field, shares lessons learned and emerging best practices, and ends with a research agenda for advancing participatory systems modeling research and practice.