Participatory modelling couches the stages of the system dynamics method within participatory processes where broad stakeholder groups are engaged to the desired extent in the activities of model conceptualization, formalisation, analysis and implementation.

Participatory systems mapping approaches, such as script-based group model building, use systems thinking methods to engage stakeholder groups in the scoping, framing and conceptualization of complex issues leading to the co-construction of causal ‘system maps’. Graphical techniques, such as causal loop diagramming, are used to outline the structural cause-effect mechanisms, in particular the feedback loops, that are expected to govern and produce the dynamics of concern.

Quantitative participatory system dynamics modelling processes typically depart from system maps towards the quantitative identification of the structure represented in stock-and-flow diagrams and the associated equations that allow for simulation of the dynamics of concern. Subsequently, alternative ‘what-if’’ scenarios are developed and policy pathways designed to steer the system towards the desired future shared by stakeholders.

Participatory system dynamics modelling provides a deliberative platform to engage stakeholders in the co-creation of a shared problem definition, the design of integrated solutions and the assessment of alternative policy pathways.