Environmental Social Science

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Flagstaff, Arizona

A Comparative Study of Community Engagement with Renewable Electricity Technology

This Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant-funded project examines the processes by which governments, NGOs, energy industries and the media seek to influence the public imagination with regards to community values and their relationships with local renewable energy projects. The research focus is on the differing conceptions of community and renewable energy as presented through promotional material of four case projects: two in Flagstaff, Arizona, and two in Treviso, Italy.

Rice farmer on terraces

When Strengths Can Become Weaknesses: Emerging Vulnerabilities in Coupled Natural Human Systems under Globalization and Climate Change

Coupled natural human systems (CNHs) are often distinguished by how they have evolved the right fit between their biophysical and social sub-systems when faced with known/anticipated disturbances. This project addresses what happens when CNHs are exposed to a new set of disturbances or novel changes likely to occur with increased globalization and climate change.

Cleaning fish on the dock

Sustainability of Marine Renewable Resources in Subarctic Systems Under Incumbent Environmental Variability and Human Exploitation

The portion of this project conducted at Arizona State University will focus on integrating research activities by developing a conceptual socio-ecological framework to address the implications for sustainability of current and alternative policy practices and scientific knowledge gaps.

Computer network

Research Network for Computational Modeling in the Social and Ecological Sciences (CoMSES Net)

Important challenges of scientific infrastructure have slowed the spread of computational modeling into research domains where it could be most profitably used. Building on a successful, National Science Foundation-funded pilot program, we propose to establish a scientific research collaboration network to confront and begin to mitigate these issues.

Barren coastline

Multi-Scale Adaptations to Global Change and their Impacts on Vulnerability in Coastal Areas

We believe a better understanding of the underlying social-ecological processes driving adaptation in coastal areas – particularly the feedbacks among risk from biophysical change, cognitive processes and adaptation – will reduce the incidence of maladaptations while increasing the frequency of win-win adaptations. Findings will directly inform and support adaptation decision making in coastal areas, add to current knowledge on vulnerability and adaptation and facilitate learning and appreciation of feedbacks in adaptation responses.

Chinese courtyard

Linking Human and Earth System Models to Assess Regional Impacts and Adaptation in Urban Systems and their Hinterlands

The central objective of this proposal is to improve understanding of the joint consequences of socio-economic development and regional climate change by developing and applying tools to better integrate human and earth system models. We will pursue this objective by focusing on impacts in three key systems – urban areas, agriculture and forests – in three regional case studies in rapidly developing countries – China, India and Brazil.

Oxcart and motorcycle

Integrated Analysis of Robustness in Dynamic Social Ecological Systems

The core question addressed in this interdisciplinary research project is why some social-ecological systems are more successful in navigating disturbances and change in the environment than others. The project will generate a deeper understanding of how societies may become fragile as they attempt to cope with uncertainty and change in the environment.

Perry Mesa

Legacies on the Landscape

This project is a collaborative effort by archaeologists and ecologists to investigate the legacy of prehistoric and modern human land use on the mesas of Agua Fria National Monument north of the Phoenix Basin. We are working to reconstruct key ecological and archaeological features of the landscape before, during, and after (in the case of the indigenous occupation) two pulses of intense human land-use. 

US Southwest archaeological site

Complexities of Ecological and Social Diversity: A Long-Term Perspective

This project is concerned with how interacting dimensions of social and ecological diversities create both short- and long-term tradeoffs. The research will explore which diversity tradeoffs can claim both short-term efficiency and longer-term resilience and will characterize diversity tradeoffs in social-ecological systems that sacrifice longer-term resilience for short-term gains.

Ethnohydrology survey collection

Global Ethnohydrology Study

The Global Ethnohydrology Study is a transdisciplinary multi-year, multi-site program of research that examines the range of variation in local ecological knowledge of water issues, also known as “ethnohydrology.” It will focus on showing how factors, such as increasing urbanization, water scarcity and climate change, are related to changes in cultural ideas and knowledge.