Foundations of Modeling Social-Ecological Systems

A Process- and Feedback-Oriented Approach

Garry Sotnik

January, 2020

Version: 0.4 (work-in-progress)

How to cite: Sotnik, G. (January, 2020). Foundations of Modeling Social-Ecological Systems: A Process- & Feedback-Oriented Approach. Manuscript retrieved from

Summary: Social-Ecological (SE) Systems is a relatively new term created by an international group of leading environmental and social scientists to reflect the interconnected nature of social and ecological systems. The underlying thread tying together this new body of research and used to conceptualize social-ecological interaction and behavior is complexity/systems theory. This book introduces readers to this new and exciting field of study, to modeling and simulation in general, and specifically to five modeling approaches useful for conducting research within this new field, including Causal-Loop Diagramming, Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping, Stock & Flow Modeling, Social Network Modeling, and Multi-Agent Modeling. Through hands-on application, readers will explore a number of concepts related to modeling and complexity/systems theory, including: feedback, nonlinear dynamics, regime shifts, self-organization, self-organized criticality, emergence, the adaptive cycle, and resilience.

Copyright: The SOSIEL Foundation 2020

Table of contents

Front Matter

Title page



About the author and editing team



PART 1: Socio-environmental problems and solutions

1. Socio-environmental problems and solutions

PART 2: Theoretical foundations

2. Organized complexity

3. Organized complexity & human cognition

4. Socio-environmental systems

5. Resilience, vulnerability, & adaptive capacity

PART 3: Modeling & simulation

6. Modeling & simulation

7. A general modeling methodology

8. Causal-loop diagramming

9. Fuzzy cognitive mapping

10. Stock & flow modeling

11. Social network modeling

12. Multi-agent modeling

13. Participatory modeling

14. Scenario analysis

15. Uncertainty analysis

16. Communication & accreditation

Part 4: Case studies

End Matter