Interactive Model Problem Set

Noelle Selin
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Initial Publication Date: April 6, 2010


This is a problem set for the course Modeling and Assessment for Policy (graduate course at MIT). It is designed to enable students to use interactive models and reflect on their use in a policy context. It relates to two case studies in the course (fisheries and chemicals) where models have been and continue to be used in decision-making.

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Graduate course in models and policy

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Background reading on box models, policy analysis.

How the activity is situated in the course

One of three problem sets in the course. It elaborates on two case studies addressed in the course (fisheries management and chemicals policy) and asks students to engage with the types of models used by decision-makers in these contexts.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

Gain familiarity with the types of simple models used in policy contexts. Explore issues related to "tragedy of the commons" (with an example on fisheries) and using models in international negotiations (with an example of chemicals).

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Reflect on the considerations for using simple models for decision-making. Consider how models interact with management strategies and with political interests and issues relating to governance.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

The problem set asks students to complete and discuss interactive, policy-relevant models from two case studies of models and policy that have been previously discussed in class: fisheries and chemicals. The first question asks the students to play the online Fishbanks game, which uses a model interface to illustrate management strategies for fisheries. The students are then asked to think about how the model might be used in decision-making contexts. The second question asks students to consider the case of a chemical under review in the context of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and to assess its overall persistence and long-range transport using an Excel-based modeling tool.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Problem set is graded.

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