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System Dynamic Group

The System Dynamics Group (Gruppen for systemdynamikk) at the University of Bergen was established in 1971 at the Department of Information Sciences and chaired by professor emeritus Svein Nordbotten.

Bergen
Photo:
Eivind Senneset, UiB

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As the former head of computing at the Norwegian Census Bureau, he was intrigued by the work of the American computer pioneer and MIT professor Jay W. Forrester, the founder of the modelling discipline now known as System Dynamics (SD). At Bergen, Nordbotten taught a course called Cybernetics and System Dynamics and collaborated with other scientists at the Christian Michelsen Institute. That motivated several graduate students to write theses using the SD methodology.

Years later, professor Pål Davidsen—a former student—went to MIT as a Visiting Scholar and worked with Forrester and other prominent system dynamicists on several SD projects, including Road Maps; an extensive set of instructional lessons aimed at developing systems thinking intuition and formal modelling skills. Not long after returning to Bergen, Davidsen was asked by the university president to establish an international Master’s as well as PhD programme in system dynamics, and the first students enrolled in the fall semester of 1995.In 2010, the Group jointly founded the European Master Program in System Dynamics (EMSD) with Radboud University in the Netherlands, the University of Palermo in Italy, and the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. EMSD students begin their studies in Bergen with the Group, where they take the foundation SD modelling courses during their first semester before moving on to partner universities. They have the option to return to Bergen to write their theses in the final semester.

As of 2004, the System Dynamics Group is housed under the Faculty of Social Sciences as an autonomous unit and has been administrated as part of the Department of Geography. Presently, the Group is chaired by Professor Birgit Kopainsky.