Essentials of Modelling

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Essentials of Modelling


Wageningen University - Campus


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Models are simplified representations of a part of reality. Many modelling projects deal with global issues such as climate change, sustainability, or the management of socio-ecological or socio-technical systems. When modelling one must consider an array of aspects that do not directly relate to the mathematical and computational side of modelling such as establishing a common definition, a model ontology, settling on a model purpose, conceptualizing the model to match the model purpose, and considering what data are available or required.

Elements that will be addressed in this course:
- How to involve stakeholders?
- How to establish a shared model ontology?
- How to balance scientific model credibility and technical detail with relevance and societal views and needs?

This course is primarily aimed at participants who are in the start-up of a modelling project. We purposefully aim to involve people from different scientific backgrounds. The emphasis is not on the mathematical, computational, and statistical aspects of modelling per se, but on the elements of the modelling process before that. You will learn about the scoping of a model, and to think critically about the choices in modelling. The set-up is to have participants cooperate with peers from other disciplines to reflect on the foundational design, requirements and purpose of their own modelling projects.


The following lecturing programme is proposed:

  • The modelling process, and what can go wrong with it
  • Model scoping, ontology, stakeholder involvement
  • Data and metrics, and balancing model complexity
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly: modelling in real life Presentations and discussions of team assignments

This course will take place at the campus of WUR. The first week involves lectures, assignments and group-work. Prior to lectures, participants have to prepare questions/points of discussion for after the lectures based on provided reading material. The second week involves working on your own work/project where you can receive feedback from course lecturers. Beforehand the course, we will ask participants to submit a brief note with an answer to the question: “What scares you in your modelling project?”. The goal is to have students exchange their (good/bad) experiences and devise possible solutions during the course.

Course organisers and lecturers

General information
 Target Group  The workshop is intended for participants who want to learn about modelling essentials.
 Group Size  Min. 20 / Max. 24 participants
 Course duration  5 days
 Language of instruction  English
 Number of credits  1.5 ECTS
 Prior knowledge  No prior experience of modelling is required.
 Location  Wageningen University Campus
 Options for accommodation  Accommodation is not included in the fee of the course, but there are several possibilities in Wageningen. For non-WUR PE&RC members 50% of the accommodation costs can be     reimbursed with a maximum of €30,- per night. For more information contact Sanja Selakovic ( For information on B&B's and hotels in Wageningen please     visit Another option is Short Stay Wageningen. Furthermore Airbnb offers several rooms in the area. Finally, there are a number of groups on Facebook where students   announce subrent possibilities and things like that. Examples include: Wageningen Room Subrent, Wageningen Room Sublets, and Wageningen Student Plaza. Wageningen has a range   of restaurants, but there are also options to have dinner on the University Campus.
More information

Dr. Sanja Selaković (PE&RC)
Phone: +31 (0) 317 480269

Registration of interest

At this moment, this course is not scheduled yet. However, if you register your interest in this activity below, we will inform you as soon as the course is scheduled and registration of participation is opened.