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ComMod : a Companion Modelling Approach


Since 2000, some researchers working in the field of renewable resource management have been using various tools, particularly Agent-Based Models and Role-Playing Games, to tackle issues regarding decision processes, common property, co-ordination among actors, etc. Dealing with models and games has been a mean to cross disciplines boundaries and to acknowledge the complex nature of the systems under study. This choice led us to formalise our relation to modelling within what we called a companion modelling approach.

At a time when models and simulations to tackle complexity and for decision support are flourishing, this group of researchers found important to specify the contents of this approach, which should be understood as a scientific posture more than a modelling handbook. Modelling is merely an intermediary object facilitating our collective and interdisciplinary thought.

A charter, written in April 2004, presents the posture and the main principles in a text that has to be taken as a starting point for further discussions.

A project on sustainable development and agriculture recently led to the publication of a collective book.


Members from the ComMod network have developed training sessions based on active learning principles. These training modules on participatory modelling favour collective activities: in small groups, participants design a conceptual model, then they implement it as a concrete tool. Two formats are proposed:

  • ComMod interdisciplinary research school : one week on the main principles of the companion modelling approach, with a special focus on role-playing games and facilitation. Forthcoming sessions:
    • in English, 21-26 Septembrer 2014 in Wageningen (organized by Wageningen University, Graduate School PE&RC; contact: Lennart Suselbeek). Information and registration: www.pe-rc.nl/cm.htm
    • in French, 16-20 March 2015 in Chateauneuf-de-Gadagne (France), organized by FormaScience INRA (for further information, please contact Michel Etienne);
    • in English, 18-22 May 2015 in Zürich (Switzerland), organized by ForDev ETH Zürich (for further information, please contact Anne Dray).
  • MISS-ABMS (Multi-platform International Summer School on Agent-Based Modeling & Simulation): 2 intensive weeks on being able to code computer agent-based models, with some insights about their use in the companion modelling approach. Forthcoming session:
    • in English, 8-19 September 2014 in Montpellier (France), organized by CIRAD-Green (for further information,have a look here).


If you share the scientific posture expressed in the charter and if you are willing to participate to the collective work of the group, you are welcome to join the ComMod association. Additionally, you can also subscribe to a mailing list related to companion modelling.


Last update : July 15, 2014

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