May 3rd to 31st 2021

Course description

The System Dynamics approach, rooted in Systems Thinking, is best suited for the deconstruction and analysis of complex socio-economic environments and political systems. There is a growing call among scientists and practitioners today on systemic approaches to tackle complex problems such as the climate and environmental crises. System dynamics is a multidisciplinary approach that uses both qualitative and quantitative methods. It has been successfully applied for other complex socioeconomic questions such as for national planning models, analysing climate change policies, food market transformation, and government health policies. ERASME’S System Dynamics Online Course aims to introduce academics and practitioners from the business, policy-making and NGO sectors to thinking in systems, understanding the dynamic nature of system behaviour and acquiring basic system dynamic modelling skills. For applicants from the academic sector, the course is designed for graduates and postgraduates. In special circumstances, undergraduate students may be accepted, providing they demonstrate the relevance of the course for their degree and have sufficient knowledge and/or experience in the field.

ERASME’s System Dynamics Online Course runs over a 4-week period, between May 3rd and May 31st 2021, and can be taken independently, as an introductory course into System Dynamics, or as the pre-requisite for ERASME’s Summer School on System Dynamics for Sustainability. Please note that for applicants from the academic sector, the summer school is designed for postgraduates (PhD students and post-docs). In special circumstances, a very limited number of graduate (Master) students may be accepted at the summer school, providing they demonstrate the relevance of the course for their degree, can show sufficient knowledge and/or experience in the field and submit a strong application. The online course requires ~4h workload per week, consisting of online lectures, reading materials, individual assignments, forum discussions and live interactions with the teachers. Upon successful completion, participants will receive a certificate.

Learning Outcomes

  • Get a brief overview of the concepts of sustainable development and strong/weak sustainability;
  • Understand the Systems Thinking approach;
  • Know the elements that define a system and the elements that define a system’s behaviour;
  • Acquire competence in using qualitative System Dynamics tools, such as Causal Loop Diagrams (CLDs) or Stock and Flow Diagrams (SFDs);
  • Understand the concept of Leverage Points of Intervention in a system and how this concept can be used to change a system’s behaviour;
  • Acquire basic skills in quantitative System Dynamics modelling;
  • Have basic competences in VENSIM® and STELLA® modelling softwares.

Participation fees

The tuition fees for the course is €200 for students, policy makers and NGO representatives and €400 for business representatives. All participant who apply for and are accepted at ERASME’s Summer School on System Dynamics for Sustainability will have €200 deducted from the summer school costs. Scholarships are available for students and NGO representatives only, subject to the quality of their application and the motivation for scholarship request.

Applications and deadlines

Deadline for applications for the course has been extended to April 23rd 2021, 17:00 CEST.

If you plan to only take the online course, you only need to send us an email at and briefly introduce yourself, your motivation for taking the course and your area of expertise. We will get back to you with further information. The online course will take place between May 3rd and May 31st.

If you apply for a scholarship, please also e-mail us a scholarship request statement (in English or French), in which you provide details on the motivation for your request and you show you have been unsuccessful in securing funding. Please note that the scholarships are highly competitive and they will be assessed based on the quality of the applications.

If you apply for the online course because you plan to participate in the Summer School on System Dynamics for Sustainability, please submit a motivation letter, your CV and one recommendation letter (in either English or French) to