Keywords:systems thinking, systems practice, expert modelling, scientific modelling, ontology, praxis, purpose
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.