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den Exter, KA 2004, 'Integrating environmental science and management: the role of system dynamics modelling', PhD thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright KA den Exter 2004


Institutional and epistemological differences between science and management present a challenge to the implementation of sustainable environmental management. Environmental problems are complex and require at least multidisciplinary, but most effectively transdisciplinary approaches for learning, understanding, decision-making and problem solving. This means building bridges between institutional and epistemological differences. The role of system dynamics modelling in integrating environmental science and management is examined in this thesis. An action research methodology is adopted where, over cycles of case studies, the practical application of system dynamics modelling is evaluated. The role of system dynamics modelling in the management of coastal sand dunes, tourism, threatened species management and water management is explored in the case studies. It has been found that system dynamics modelling is a potentially powerful tool for integrating environmental science and management, principally assisting communication between scientists and management stakeholders. System dynamics group model-building, in particular, has the potential to facilitate stakeholder learning and assist stakeholders to think holistically about the complex systems they are trying to manage. It was also found that engaging stakeholders in system dynamics group model-building process is difficult. A model of factors influencing the adoption of system dynamics group model-building has been developed from this research. The model can be applied to assess the suitability of potential case studies and identify potential weaknesses that need to be addressed if the approach is to succeed.