Workshop: Use and Usefulness of Simulation Models for Policymaking
10 september 2020

Welcome to a workshop on the “use and usefulness of simulation models for policymaking” at the Institute for Futures Studies (IFFS) in Stockholm
10 September 2020

This workshop was partly prompted by what some in the public sphere have seen as a regrettable lack of critical discussion in Sweden about the government’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. We aim to facilitate a discussion of one crucial aspect in that debate: the role of models. 

It will be a small expert workshop, running all day from 9-17 on 10 September. The speakers are from different fields and institutions, covering epidemiology, climate science, economics and philosophy. Given our interest in climate change, one focus will be on similarities and differences between the case of COVID and climate science.


Lisa Brouwers, Head of Analysis, Folkhälsomyndigheten
Tom Britton, Professor of Mathematical Statistics, SU
Reto Knutti, Professor of Climate Physics, ETH Zurich
Alec Waterhouse, Head of Modelling Climate Change, UK Gov Dept of BEIS
Jonna Olsson, Lecturer in Economics, Edinburgh
Philip Gerlee, Associate Professor, Mathematical Statistics, Chalmers
Olof Johansson-Stenman, Professor of Economics, Gothenburg
Karolina Ekholm, Professor of Economics, SU and former Deputy Governor of the Riksbank
Alkistis Elliott-Graves, Researcher, TINT and U Helsinki
Wendy Parker, Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Tech 

We invited the speakers to contribute to these broad themes: 

  • The role of models in policymaking. Should they be used at all? If so, how should they be used, and how should they not be used? If we do not use models, what are the alternatives?
  • Managing model uncertainty. How can we quantify the uncertainty in our models? What is the threshold for using a model? (When does it shift from being unhelpful to being helpful?) How do we communicate about uncertainty with policymakers, and do we expect them to do with this information?
  • Making decisions with models. What do policymakers need to know from modellers?  How can models be used to support decision-making?

This workshop is organized by Joe Roussos, and Folke Tersman.