26-28 March 2018
Stuttgart, Germany
Europe/Berlin timezone

Birgit Kopainsky


Monday, 26 March 2018

4:45pm - 5:30pm

Campus Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Pfaffenwaldring 47

Room V 47.03


On Using System Dynamics to Build Adaptive Capacity with Small-scale Farmers in sub-Saharan Africa

My keynote lecture discusses a participatory system dynamics project in rural Zambia. I investigate how participatory system dynamics modelling can be adapted to groups at the community level with low formal educational background. I report on a series of interviews and workshops with small-scale farmers in Zambia where we simplified and adjusted the regular model building process and tracked the development of systems thinking competence. Our analyses show that participatory system dynamics is well adaptable to support an audience-specific learning-by-doing approach. The use of pictures, objects and water glasses in combination with the basic aspects of causal loop diagramming makes for a well-balanced toolbox. It provides incentives for engagement through familiar items from participants’ day-to-day practice while at the same time posing conceptual challenges that need to be resolved in the group. The newly acquired understanding is also relevant beyond systems thinking in that it seems to have triggered behavior change in a variety of ways.



Prof. Dr. Birgit Kopainsky is an associate professor in System Dynamics at the University of Bergen in Norway. She holds a PhD in agricultural economics from ETH Zurich and a master's degree in Geography from the University of Zurich in Switzerland. In her research, she explores the role that system dynamics analysis and modeling techniques play in facilitating transformation processes in social-ecological systems, such as the transition towards sustainable agri-food systems on local, national and international levels. She has done extensive fieldwork in several sub Saharan African countries and teaches at ETH Zurich as well as at the University of Bergen.




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