System Dynamics & Systems Thinking

The systemic problems faced by society today are complex and ever evolving, especially amidst rapid technological innovation and economic growth. To better understand and develop solutions for these sociotechnical challenges, policymakers and engineers alike are increasingly becoming systems thinkers. Systems thinking offers novel ways of understanding interconnected casual relationships and complex interactions.

One method of systems thinking is system dynamics. Using computer simulation modeling techniques, system dynamicists can examine competing social, economic, and ecological systems; promote strategic thinking through serious games and what-if analyses; and assist decision makers in determining optimal policy solutions. 

For more about the design, construction, and maintenance of systems, see Systems Engineering

System Dynamics & Systems Thinking Highlights

Simulating COVID-19 Immune Response

System dynamics leader Ken Cooper and SSPS research scientist Dr. Raafat Zaini use modeling and simulation to better understand the immune system response to COVID-19, including how the fatal “cytokine storm” phenomenon develops and what can be done to prevent this deadly condition. 

Decision-Making in STEM Education

Shari Weaver, the director of WPI’s Teacher Preparation Program and a System Dynamics graduate student, explores the applications of system dynamics modeling for STEM education initiatives.

Systems Thinking for Public Policy in Brazil

Dr. Karim Chichakly, the Co-President of isee systems and WPI System Dynamics alumnus, shares his journey of bringing systems thinking to the Brazilian federal government to inform public policy. 

Ethics in Prescriptive Analytics

By sharing cases from the field and his own experiences, WPI System Dynamics PhD candidate Tim Clancy introduces ethical frameworks for STEM fields dealing with advanced analytics to consider. 

Quantifying Intangibles from Survey Data

System Dynamics PhD student Christine Tang and co-researchers, Dr. Saeed Langarudi and Dr. Raafat Zaini, share their work-in-progress study on developing a systemic method for quantifying intangibles in interview and survey design.

Start Expanded

System Dynamics & Systems Thinking Degrees

Through our systems thinking and system dynamics graduate programs, you can earn your Minor in System Dynamics.

For questions specific to the System Dynamics & Innovation Management degrees, reach out to Khalid Saeed.



System Dynamics Bachelor’s/Master’s Program: Interested in systems thinking and system dynamics as an undergraduate? Through our 5-year Bachelor’s/Master’s program, you can complete your BS in any subject and MS in System Dynamics

System Dynamics Minor for Undergraduates: We also offer a System Dynamics minor for undergraduate students. See SSPS Undergraduate Degrees for more information about SSPS undergraduate minors. 

For questions about System Dynamics undergraduate opportunities, reach out to Oleg Pavlov.

Our System Dynamics MS and Certificate programs are currently undergoing revisions, and we will not be accepting students into these programs at this time. 

System Dynamics & Systems Thinking Curriculum

Our System Dynamics & Systems Thinking curriculum equips undergraduate and graduate students alike with the tools and skills necessary to be effective system dynamicists. Explore the dropdown below to see what topics we teach!

System Behavior
  • Exponential Growth and Decay 
  • Goal-Seeking Behavior
  • Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Archetypes
  • Stock and Flow
  • S-Shaped Growth
  • Overshoot and Collapse
  • Oscillation 
Modeling and Analysis
  • Computer Simulation Modeling 
  • Causal Loop Diagrams/Directed Cyclical Graphs
  • Sensitivity Analysis
  • Modeling and Analysis
  • What-If Scenarios
  • Policy Analysis
  • Scenario Analysis
  • Calibration and Optimization 
Special Topics
  • Rework Cycles 
  • Business Cycles 
  • Economic Long Waves 
  • Bullwhip Effect 
  • Agent-Based Modeling 

See our SSPS course list for all System Dynamics courses. 

System Dynamics Resources

System Dynamics Society

WPI System Dynamics students aid the International System Dynamics Society by leading initiatives for peer mentoring in special interest groups (SIG), such as the Conflict, Defense and Security SIG; organize the monthly Economics SIG meeting; and host a weekly Collective Learning Meeting during the academic year. We also volunteer at the International System Dynamics Conference and serve on various committees (e.g., learning, diversity, and marketing). 

System Dynamics Society

Visiting Fellow

System dynamics students at WPI have access to the following software and software packages. 

isee systems 

  • Stella Architect 
  • Stella Pro 
  • iThink 

Ventana Systems 

AnyLogic (PLE, University Researcher, Pro) 


Insight Maker 

See the System Dynamics Society’s "Useful Open Source Tools” list for more helpful resources. 


Visiting Fellow

Molecules of Structure: a useful collection of small expert structures for building system dynamics models. 

Model Library: library of classic system dynamics models from MetaSD. 


Any questions? Reach out to Christine Tang or Michael Radzicki

Graduate Students


           Christine Tang                              Timothy Clancy                            James Hacunda                              Pablo Aguirre



Associate Professor, Social Science & Policy Studies

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5234

Professor Pavlov earned a BS degree in Physics/Computer Science and a PhD in Economics from University of Southern California and an MBA from Cornell University. He has taught at WPI since 2002. He has been to many universities in the US, Russia and Western Europe, but he thinks WPI is like no other university. The project-based approach at WPI allows him to involve students in research projects. He values the opportunity to include students in his research through IQPs and MQPs. Professor Pavlov’s expertise is in multi-sector analysis that accounts for feedback and resistance to change ...

view profile
Associate Professor, Social Science & Policy Studies

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5767

Professor Radzicki is an economist, creator of WPI’s program in system dynamics, and co-creator of WPI’s program in trading and investment system development. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Notre Dame and his training in system dynamics computer simulation modeling from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition, he is a certified Rapid-I Predictive Analytics Analyst.Professor Radzicki’s research focuses on predictive analytics, simulation science, and the application of techniques from these areas to problems in economics, finance, and management. He has ...

view profile

Phone: +1 (508) 8315000 x5563

Khalid Saeed is widely recognized for his work on the interface of economics and system dynamics. He has published two books and numerous articles on a variety of methodological, developmental and management agendas including sustainable agriculture, poverty alleviation, political instability, supply chain management and system dynamics modeling. His current focus is on operationalization of economic policy so it can be implemented through available managerial roles. Professor Saeed served as the head of social Science and Policy Studies department from 1997-2007. He previously taught at ...

view profile

See SSPS faculty & staff for a full list of SSPS faculty.