Welcome to the MSD Working Group on Human Systems Modeling


Our vision centers around the development of a new typology for human representation in multisector dynamics models.

The Human Systems Modeling working group explores state of the art modeling methods that can improve representation of human decision making and adaptation in multi-sector systems, drawing from advances in economics, social sciences, computer science, and statistics. We investigate a range of modeling techniques (e.g., agent-based, bioeconomic, computable general equilibrium, etc.) and their integration with physical energy-water-land models for capturing human response to both natural and socioeconomic stressors under short-term shocks and long-term change.

The representation of human decision making in physically-focused energy, water, and land (EWL) models is often highly abstracted and simplified. For example, many EWL management models often assume human resource demands that are fixed relative to exogenous drivers such as population or technology input and that are uniform across demographic characteristics (e.g., income, gender, education). Additionally, physically-focused EWL models tend to largely ignore or abstract institutional dynamics in resource systems (e.g., centralized, polycentric or uncoordinated institutional regimes), commonly adopting fixed allocation rules that implicitly presume centralized, non-adaptive management of resources and treating infrastructure expansion in exogenous fashion. Such treatment ignores the fact that resource availability, allocation, and use stem from a web of interactions between users, groups, and governing bodies with different incentives that adapt to changing environmental and socioeconomic conditions, with the complexity of this web being especially pronounced in multi-sector systems.

To address these gaps in EWL modeling, our working group explores state of the art modeling methods that can improve representation of human decision making and adaptation in the MSD context. We investigate a range of modeling techniques, including agent-based, bioeconomic, equilibrium, computable general equilibrium, game-theory, dynamic spatial simulation (e.g., network and cognitive mapping), stochastic optimization / dynamic programming, and cellular automata approaches towards simulating human decisions in multi-sector systems. The goal of our working group is to determine how these various modeling methods can be effectively integrated with physically-focused EWL models, enhancing representation of human decision making in EWL models for improved understanding of multi-sector system evolution and vulnerability.


Recent webinars

September 27, 2022
Charting the State & Frontier of Human Systems Modeling for MSD Research

Thank you to members of the MSD Community of Practice who participated in the 2022 webinar discussing the state and frontier of human systems modeling for MSD research. While the role of human adaptive action is increasingly recognized as a paramount determinant of multisector systems behavior and vulnerability, the effort to represent human systems in multisector models has been fragmented across methodological lines, ranging from computable general equilibrium to agent-based to system dynamics approaches. During the workshop, we introduced a new typology for classifying how human actors are represented in the broad suite of models that are applied in MSD research to enable comparison and cohere insights across diverse modeling approaches. A recording of the webinar can be found here.

Get Involved

The MSD human systems modeling working group is actively seeking researchers interested in the representation of human decisions/actions in multi-sector models and more broadly coupled human-natural systems modeling at large. If you are interested in participating in the working group or presenting your research at a future working group meeting, please feel free to reach out to us via email (jim.yoon@pnnl.gov) or through the form below.

Ways to Get Involved

There are multiple ways to get involved with the working group:

  1. Sign up for our mailing list to receive periodic updates on working group activities and public events.
  2. Share a paper or presentation that you think would be of interest to the working group.
  3. Request to present at a future working group monthly meeting.
  4. Join the working group as a contributing or core member (contingent upon group approval).

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