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Integrated Analysis of Robustness in Dynamic Social Ecological Systems

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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.

There are many examples of societies which have endured for long periods, successfully coping with uncertainty, disturbance, and change in the environment. There are also many examples of societies that have failed in this regard. 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. 

One factor may be that in developing mechanisms to address an existing suite of uncertainties and environmental risks (becoming robust to a particular class of disturbances), society necessarily becomes vulnerable to other classes of disturbances. This project will explore the role of such robustness—fragility trade-offs in the success or failure of a range of simple irrigation societies. 

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 and new tools for resource managers: a set of design principles for robust institutions that perform well in the face of both social and environmental disturbances.

Note: This project may no longer be externally funded, but collaborative research opportunities may still exist.

Presentations:
Final Report to Soil Systems, Inc., completed by August 2005.

Funding Sources:
Indiana University Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
University of Hong Kong

Team Members:

Marty Anderies, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Principal Investigator
Armando Rodriguez, Arizona State University Department of Electrical Engineering, Co-Principal Investigator
Marco Janssen, Arizona State University School of Sustainability, Co-Principal Investigator
Charles Perrings, Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, Co-Principal Investigator
Ann Kinzig, Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, Co-Principal Investigator