The Brown School’s First Summer Institute on Systems Science a Success

Faculty; Policy; Public Health; Social Work

Researchers, evaluators and governmental administrators from around the U.S. and the world came to the Brown School July 29 – August 2, 2019 for training in systems science and how it can be applied to enhance social impact.

The first annual Systems Science for Social Impact Summer Institute was a week-long program that aimed to begin training the next generation of health and social science scholars in systems science methods. The 33 participants received training in either agent-based modeling, system dynamics, or social networks, and learned how to apply the methods.

Participants became familiar with major concepts, learned analytic best practices, and applied the methods to real-world data. They also had opportunities to interact with each other, instructors, and outside experts across tracks.

“They were highly engaged and appreciated the opportunity to work with each other and with us,” said Douglas Luke, professor and director of the Center for Public Health Systems Science at the Brown School. “The WashU campus and Brown School environment and people impressed them.”

Other faculty leaders at the institute were Ross Hammond, Betty Bofinger Brown Associate Professor; and Peter Hovmand, professor of practice and the founding director of the Social System Design Lab.

“The Institute helped increase the visibility of the sort of work we’re doing here at the Brown School,” said Luke, who noted that side conversations with the instructors included discussions about consulting, new grant opportunities, job applications and student recruitment.

Hovmand said the focus on social impact made the training special.

The institute will be offered again next summer, Luke said, to take advantage of the Brown School’s expertise in the field—and the lack of systems science training elsewhere specifically designed for researchers and practitioners in social work, public health, and other applied social sciences.

To stay informed on future institute dates and registration, visit or email