Contested Modelling

Mike Yearworth, Sarah Cornell


We suggest that the role and function of expert computational modelling in real-world decision-making needs scrutiny and practices need to change. We discuss some empirical and theory-based improvements to the coupling of the modelling process and the real world, including social and behavioural processes, which we have expressed as a set of questions that we believe need to be answered by all projects engaged in such modelling.  These are based on a systems analysis of four research initiatives, covering different scales and timeframes, and addressing the complexity of intervention in a sustainability context. Our proposed improvements require new approaches for analysing the relationship between a project’s models and its publics.  They reflect what we believe is a necessary and beneficial dialogue between the realms of expert scientific modelling and systems thinking.  This paper is an attempt to start that process, itself reflecting a robust dialogue between two practitioners sat within differing traditions, puzzling how to integrate perspectives and achieve wider participation in researching this problem space. 


systems thinking; systems practice; expert modelling; scientific modelling; ontology; praxis; purpose

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