Emerging Areas: The Environment

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Emerging Areas:

The Environment

Robert E. O’Connor


Decision, Risk and Management Sciences

November 8, 2007


Organization


Past and current support for SBE
environmental research


The Big Success in integrated SBE /
natural science environmental research


Two unpleasant expirations


Lessons learned


Opportunities


The Big Gap


The Funding Mix


Most SBE awards for environmental
projects always have come from regular
competitions in the standing programs.


Many special competitions have focused
primarily on the SBE sciences.


More recent special competitions have
aimed to foster interdisciplinary research
spanning the natural and SBE sciences.

Support in Standing SBE Programs


Some programs actively support
environmental research because of the
major theoretical emphases in their
communities.


Geography; Decision, Risk, and Management
Sciences; Anthropology


Other programs tend to see the
environment as an "application domain."


A third group of programs provides some
support for theoretically driven work in
environmental settings

Special Competitions I: Focusing
Largely on the SBE Sciences


Mid
-
1990s to early 2000s: Human Dimensions
of Global Change (HDGC), centers and teams


2004
-
: Decision Making Under Uncertainty
(DMUU) centers, part of the Climate Change
Research Initiative


Centers at Arizona State, Carnegie Mellon, and
Columbia.


Smaller teams at RAND and Colorado, Boulder.

Special Competitions II: Integrating
the SBE and Natural Sciences


Methods and Models for Integrated
Assessment competition in the late 1990s.


Small support for SBE science
involvement in work of the Long
-
Term
Ecological Research (LTER) sites and
network.


Core support for Urban LTER sites,
supplemental support for other integration
-
building activities


The big success: CNH

Dynamics of Coupled Natural
and Human Systems (CNH)


Dynamics

of

Coupled


Natural
and


Human

Systems

Origins of CNH


A component of the “Biocomplexity in the
Environment” Priority Area, FY2001
-
05


A free
-
standing CNH competition in
FY2007with BIO, GEO, and SBE support

CNH Is Now a Standing, Multi
-
Directorate Program


An MOU signed by the ADs of BIO, GEO, and
SBE provides a long
-
term commitment.

The 12 CNH Awards Resulting
from the FY2007 Competition
Continue the Tradition


Two awards effectively are renewals of previous
CNH awards:


David Campbell,

Michigan State U,


"Dynamic Interactions

Among People, Livestock,

and Savanna Ecosystems

Under Climate Change "


Jianguo Liu, Michigan State U, "Effects of

Cross
-
Boundary Processes on Human
-
Nature
Dynamics in Wolong Nature Reserve for Giant
Pandas"


Other awards examined human
-
natural system
interactions in urban environments:


Nicolas Brozovic, U of Illinois
-
Urbana/Champaign,

"Coupling Hydrologic,

Economic, and Social

Network Models to

Improve Understanding

of Surface

Water
-

Groundwater

Interactions

for Protection

of Instream

Flows"


Colin Polsky, Clark U, "Suburbanization, Water Use,
Nitrogen Cycling, and Eutrophication in the 21st
Century: Interactions, Feedbacks, and Uncertainties
in a Massachusetts Coastal Zone"


Lawrence Baker, U of Minnesota
-
Twin Cities,
"Integration of Human Choice into Models of
Biogeochemical Cycling in Urban Ecosystems"

Two Unfortunate Expirations


Human and Social Dynamics Priority Area


~ 1/3 of awards are environmentally related


Much work is interdisciplinary within the social
sciences


Decision Making Under Uncertainty for Climate
Change


E.g., DCDC at ASU integrates GIS, ECON, SOC,
POLSCI, PSY


E.g., CRED at Columbia integrates lab and
international empirical work

Lesson Learned:

Ground Activities Firmly in Theory


The most significant advances in SBE
research related to the environment have
resulted with research and related activities
are firmly grounded in and contributing to
the enhancement of fundamental theory in
and across the SBE sciences.


"Applied" or "reactive" research may serve
short
-
term needs, but rarely contributes to
sustained community engagement.

Experience with "Big Science"


SBE sciences traditionally have been "cottage
industries" rather than "factory production."


Experience with HDGC, DMUU, and other centers
has shown synergies and contributions of
participating in larger
-
scale coordinated activities.


The most successful activities have been those
whose origin has been grounded in fundamental
theoretical inquiries.


Activities focused on serving the immediate needs of
stakeholders, decision makers, and/or other "users"
have worked only when strong theoretical emphasis
has been maintained (often with external pressure
from NSF).


Opportunities: Lead from Other
Directorates


NEON Observatory


WATERS Network Observatory


LTERs

Opportunities: SBE Lead


Resilience Observatories


DRMS, IMHR, and USGS funded workshop


Sustainable Development


SBE funded workshop (Columbia)


DMUU for Climate Change


Extend, then re
-
compete?


Valuation of Ecological Services


Co
-
funded conference with USGS?


Warnings



DRMS, IMHR, and NOAA funded 2008 solicitation

The Big Gap


Multi
-
Disciplinary research within the
social sciences


Solution: Create a new program within
SBE

The Environmental Campaign Theme:









The Environmental Campaign
:


To increase knowledge of


how human

cognition, structure, and action


interact with the natural environment


over spatial, temporal, and
organizational scales.

Action

Cognition

Structure

Natural
Environment

Spatial scale

Temporal scale

Action

Cognition

Structure

For Example:

Perceptions

Beliefs

Attitudes

Values

Language

Culture

Ethics

Morals

Spirituality

Neural processes

Memory

Attention

Knowledge

Creativity

Ingenuity

Personality

Emotions

For Example:

Behaviors

Innovation

Conflict

Consumerism

Development

Observation

Exploration

Research

Education

Consumption

Exploitation

Conservation

Reproduction

Migration

Decision making


For Example:

Government

Policy

Economy

Law

Religion

Language

Technology

Educational systems

Health care

Traditions

Infrastructure

Housing

Built environment

Formal organizations
Informal organizations

Interest groups


Action

Cognition

Structure

For Example:

Perceptions

Beliefs

Attitudes

Values

Language

Culture

Ethics

Morals

Spirituality

Neural processes

Memory

Attention

Knowledge

Creativity

Ingenuity

Personality

Emotions

For Example:

Behaviors

Innovation

Conflict

Revolution

Consumerism

Development

Observation

Exploration

Research

Education

Consumption

Exploitation

Conservation

Reproduction

Migration

Evolution

Decision making


For Example:

Government

Policy

Economy

Law

Religion

Technology

Educational systems

Language

Health care

Traditions

Infrastructure

Housing

Built environment

Formal organizations
Informal Organizations

Interest groups


Natural
Environment

Work on the Campaign


Develop multiple approaches, methods, and
tools


Identify types of data to respond to crucial
questions


Understand transformations


Explore the quality of life and environmental
management options


Ascertain the role of resilience, robustness, and
sustainability


Learn how to address inter
-
generational equity





Topics and perspectives that seem to excite
SBE scientists include:


Dynamics of human activity


Population


Resource consumption


Technological capabilities


Cognition, attitudes, perceptions, values, and beliefs


Informal arrangements, formal structures, and
organizations


Interactions across scales: spatial, temporal, and
organizational


Adaptation, resilience, robustness, sustainability


Uncertainty


Quality of life and environmental management options


Inter
-
generational equity