PM CoP March 2020 Newsletter 

Happy New Year from the Participatory Modeling Community of Practice and welcome to new members! Our mission is to increase the utility and accessibility of participatory modeling through leveraging shared experiences. 


Announcements & Reminders 

Use the discussion board! 

We have a new capability on our website to facilitate discussion about the participatory modeling process. Please post any questions you have and respond to others with advice from your experience. These insights can ultimately help inform a handbook we are writing to describe best practices. 


Remember to also add your past and present case studies to the “Resources” page along with a pin of your location to the Map of Activity. You can share news and stories, and about yourself, your skills, and expertise. This will increase the accessibility of our work to communities and researchers looking to collaborate. 


Join working groups! 

Take a look at the working group sign-up sheet  and find the leads of any group you find interesting and message them to see what the progress is and how you could contribute. If you’re interested in being a lead of a group please email any other leads and to get started as a lead to the group! 


Logo Design Challenge

We do not yet have a logo for our community to use for our website or social media account. If you have any artistic inclinations, please give the design for our logo a shot! Please email creations to 


Our Achievements

Working Groups 

Working Groups

Our working groups have…

  • Formed a data collection team and collected data from additional case studies regarding PM practices. Working group: Research Paper; Lead(s): Alex Killion and Emily Bondank. Data collection team: Martin Marzloff, Nagesh Kolagani, Stefan Woehlke, Emily Bondank, Loretta Singletary
  • Developed discussion board and email notification capabilities. Working Group: Website; Lead(s): Alex Killion
  • Started development of a practitioner focused workshop for the iEMSs conference. Working Group: Outreach; Lead(s): Laura Basco-Carrera 

Participatory Modeling Field School 

On August 19-21, 2019, 38 faculty, students, project managers, and municipal leaders from around the U.S. gathered in Detroit to learn about the principles and practices of participatory modeling at the first Michigan State University Participatory Modeling Field School. The Field School was organized by University Outreach and Engagement, faculty from the Department of Community Sustainability, and  Detroit community partner Renee Wallace. FoodPLUS Detroit was a co-sponsor of the field school, of which Renee is the Executive Director. 


Day 1 of the Field School began with introductory sessions on the basics of systems thinking, the participatory modeling process, and how to identify and engage with stakeholders. In the afternoon, participants visited the ECN Hamilton Rainscape Outdoor Learning Lab and the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm. At both locations, participants learned from Detroit community leaders about how communities are reclaiming and developing land in ways that build community and promote the well-being of Detroit residents.


Following the Field Trip, participants enjoyed a reception and networking event at the MSU Detroit Center, where field school participants had the opportunity to meet Detroit community leaders and learn about challenges and prospects in Detroit communities that provide opportunities for participatory modeling partnerships.


On days two and three, participants attended sessions focused on participatory modeling techniques, including qualitative methods (e.g. rich pictures, concept maps, and causal loop diagrams), social network analysis, fuzzy cognitive mapping, agent-based modeling, and system dynamics modeling. The Field School concluded on Day 3 with sessions focused on integrating multiple modeling techniques within a single project and next steps for building a participatory modeling community of practice.


Michigan State University is planning to hold a Participatory Modeling Field School again in 2021. If you have any questions about the 2021 Field School, please contact Miles McNall (; 517.432.0475)

Bulletin Board 

2020 iEMSs Conference

The next International Environmental Modelling and Software Society Conference will be held on July 5-9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. We are organizing a session titled “Participatory Modelling: How to overcome challenges in practice?”

–Deadline for submission of abstracts is 1 March 2020. Submit an abstract here

Use this survey tool to help reflect on the PM process 

Visit the “PM for participatory planning and decision-making: a review tool” to support self-reflection upon participatory modeling (PM) in relation to participatory planning processes. It can be used as an input to communication around, planning for, and learning from PM processes. Both before, during and after a PM process.


Special Issue of Sustainability on Modelling & Simulation of Human-Environment Interactions

Drs Giabbanelli (Miami University) and Ligmann-Zielinska are pleased to announce a new special issue of interest to the participatory modeling community. Manuscript can be submitted anytime until October 31st 2020. Submissions are encouraged on new methods and case studies to model human-environment interactions, as well as on how to engage participants in building or using these models for decision-making. Potential authors can contact Dr Giabbanelli for any question at The journal, Sustainability, has an impact factor of 2.592.


Researchers who are active in this field but would not be able to contribute by October 31st 2020 are also kindly reminded that the community has the open-access journal Socio-Environmental Systems Modelling (SESMO), which is now in its second volume.

Thank you from the editors

We encourage contributions from you, so please email the editors at with anything you would like to share with the community! 


Emily Bondank is a postdoctoral scholar in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University.  Email:


Alexey Voinov is a Distinguished Professor at the School of Information, Systems and Modeling at Faculty of Engineering and IT University of Technology Sydney. Email:


Dr. Kelley Sterle is a Hydrologist II with Cardno, Inc and Adjunct Faculty with the Graduate Program of Hydrology Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno.  Email: 


Pierre Glynn heads the Water Cycle Branch at the U.S. Geological Survey.  Email:

Dr. Philippe J. Giabbanelli is an associate professor at Miami University (Ohio). He currently serves as program chair for ACM SIGSIM PADS and track chair for SpringSim.  Email: