In recognition of his “distinguished contributions to improving decision-making in complex systems—including corporate strategy and operations, energy policy, public health, environmental sustainability, and climate change"—MIT Sloan Professor John Sterman was elected as a 2017 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Fellows are elected by their peers for their contributions to science and technology, scientific leadership, and extraordinary achievements across disciplines.
The system dynamics expert joins an esteemed roster of Fellows dating back to 1874 that includes astronomer Maria Mitchell, who discovered a comet that now carries her name; inventor Thomas Edison, whose creations include the incandescent light bulb; anthropologist Margaret Mead, known for her field research on culture and personality; and American biologist James Watson who helped discover the structure of DNA. The Fellows will be honored at ceremonies held at the Fellows Forum during the annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on February 17, 2018.
Sterman is the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a professor in the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society. He is also the Director of the MIT System Dynamics Group and the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative.
Well known for his pioneering work in developing “management flight simulators” of corporate and economic systems now used by corporations, universities, and governments around the world, Sterman is also recognized for his efforts on behalf of environmental sustainability and climate change, as well as his involvement with Climate Interactive—a not-for-profit organization that helps people understand what can be done to address climate change and related issues such as energy, health, food security, and disaster risk reduction.
In his post-Paris agreement assessment published in The Huffington Post, "The Paris Climate Agreement: Deliverance or Disappointment?" Sterman wrote, "Many developing nations continue to argue that the developed nations created the climate crisis and therefore bear historical responsibility to solve it by cutting their emissions, while the developing nations must continue to burn fossil fuels. That is simply not possible. To have any chance of limiting warming to 2°C (3.6°F), global emissions must fall essentially to zero before the end of the century. To do so, all nations must cut."
Sterman is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book, Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award-winning textbook, Business Dynamics. He has been recognized for his work with an honorary doctorate from the Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland. The scholar has twice been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best published work in system dynamics; has won an IBM Faculty Award, as well as the Accenture Award for the best paper of the year published in the California Management Review; has seven times won awards for teaching excellence; and was named one of MIT Sloan’s “Outstanding Faculty” by the BusinessWeek Guide to the Best Business Schools.
Sterman teaches in the MIT Sloan Executive Education programs, Business Dynamics: MIT’s Approach to Diagnosing and Solving Complex Business Problems; Leading Change in Complex Organizations; Understanding and Solving Complex Business Problems; and Strategies for Sustainable Business.