Because of the strong and persistent interest in systems science methods among health researchers, the demand for these skills far outstrips the supply of instructors able to teach them. We propose here the creation, evaluation, refinement and dissemination of a course on Dynamic Systems Science Modeling for Public Health, representing the popular approaches of both System Dynamics and Agent-Based Modeling. The course will leverage the strong and varied background and experience of the applicant team in teaching and disseminating dynamic systems science materials to (1) develop and implement a 1-week workshop on dynamic systems science methods in a program with a track record of drawing students interested in dynamic methods in systems science, (2) iteratively evaluate and refine this curriculum for maximum impact and accessibility;and (3) package the curriculum for broad distribution as a set of stand-alone materials that can be used in public health education without requiring a systems science expert as faculty. Course materials will use interactive exercises and practical, structured mechanisms to introduce students to basic motivations for systems science, the notions, strengths and limitations of models, problem framing and scoping, the basic perspective and model "building blocks" of each of the two dynamic systems science approaches, discussion of common processes - such as sensitivity analysis and model testing - common to both approaches, varied ways of leveraging data with a dynamic model, and preparing models for publication. Targeted promotion and a generous allocation of earmarked scholarships will help ensure that under-represented groups are well- represented among its US-based target audience.
There is a great deal of interest in systems science methods among health researchers, but the demand for these skills far outstrips the supply of instructors able to teach them and the supply of available curricular materials. Our ultimate goal from the grant is a set of course materials that can be deployed by any instructors interested in teaching these methods. Our research education program consists of three phases: (1) develop and implement a 1-week workshop on systems science methods (with a focus on agent-based modeling and system dynamics);(2) iteratively refine and improve the materials over three successive deployments as part of a summer graduate program and (3) package the workshop as a set of curricular materials for distribution as a stand-alone introduction to systems science that can be taught by researchers or faculty at many institutions without requiring an existing strong expertise in systems approaches.