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The term “public policy” covers an enormous amount of territory. Worse still, almost all of it matters, because every part of public policy is connected with the others to some degree. Since our goal is to create a foundation for people to gain a holistic and systemic perspective on public policy, our research likewise will need to cover a lot of topics.

No single person can have a complete and up-to-date understanding of all of those pieces of the public policy realm. Because of this, we are seeking to build a foundation, something that non-experts can use to become educated on the basics of how the various realms of public policy interact and why the problems we’re dealing with have proven so hard to solve. Though we may dive into the weeds in some of our work, our intent is to primarily write material that can be grasped by the layperson, rather than requiring a doctorate or two to understand.


The answer goes back to a related question: why are some problems so hard to solve? Most problems have relatively straightforward solutions, so they get solved and we move on. But some of the biggest problems facing us as a society stubbornly resist attempts to solve them. What seem like obvious, common-sense solutions are tried – often at the cost of a great deal of effort, money, and disruption – and yet the problems persist. Even more frustrating, the attempted “solutions” can have unanticipated side-effects and can actually make these problems worse.

These are often called “wicked problems,” because they seem perversely resistant to what seem like straightforward solutions. What they have in common is that they exist at the intersections of multiple complex systems, generally with many hidden feedback loops that act automatically to oppose change. Without a serious effort to understand the complexity of the overall system and to make those linkages visible, policy makers are flying blind.

Not using a systems perspective has led us down some futile and often counterproductive paths in the past. Bringing a systems approach to the analysis of such problems will greatly improve our ability to come up with answers that work. More than that, though, developing a citizenry with a better understanding of systems will enable greater political support for what may seem like indirect or nonintuitive policies that can actually solve the wicked problems we’re dealing with.


We plan on undertaking multiple paths for the Center, but for now we’re primarily going to focus on encouraging the creation of articles that utilize a systems perspective to analyze public policy problems in the US.

To begin, we will be launching an open Blog where we will be publishing articles on the intersection between systems thinking and public policy. If you have an article you would like to submit for publication, or a proposal for an article, please get in touch with us.

We will also be sponsoring an open competition for students to submit papers on systems thinking and public policy.

Eventually, we intend to provide grants for research that will be used in articles intended for wider distribution in other appropriate platforms that publish serious long-form articles about policy issues, such as The Atlantic, System Dynamics Review, etc. If you have a publication track record and an idea that you believe has merit but that you need support to bring to fruition, please contact us.

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