Making and using large models of complex systems: The Poverty Reduction Model

My Master’s Research Project is now done!  It visualizes the causes and effects of poverty with a system model, and visualizes modelling methodology with art photography.

This project created the Poverty Reduction Model, which is a mapping of over 550 causes and effects of poverty in Toronto. I facilitated workshops with the Yonge Street Mission social services agency to generate and prioritize ideas for policy changes, using this model for awareness of their complex systemic effects.  This model is available for enhancement with other organizations.

This was a case study to develop methodology for modelling complex social systems. To help a group make sense of this large and complex system, I adapted Causal Loop Diagrams with simple, modern notation, by customizing Kumu software.  The causal model was combined with facilitated methods for rapidly comparing & prioritizing options, which showed that systems thinking is useful to support decision-making.  The project led to recommendations for balancing the broad scope of a complex system with the time and resources available for modelling it.

Last but not least, this project at OCAD, Canada’s largest art & design university, included a series of photographs.  Intermeshed strands and loops of copper wire were my metaphor for the tangled web of interactions between people in a complex social system.

This completes my work toward the Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.  The full academic report is 252 pages or you might prefer the photographic abridged version.  I have posted excerpts on this blog (linked above), and given workshops.  Please contact me if you’d like to hear more about any aspect of the project.


9 thoughts on “Making and using large models of complex systems: The Poverty Reduction Model

  1. Pingback: Tangles of copper wire | Alana Boltwood

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  4. Pingback: Adapting the notation of Causal Loop Diagrams | Alana Boltwood

  5. Pingback: Upcoming Toronto workshops about systems modelling | Alana Boltwood

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  8. Pingback: System mapping for poverty reduction | Alana Boltwood

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