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Our mission: To foster synthetic, actionable science related to the structure, functioning, and sustainability of socio-environmental systems.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is a unique resource for the scholarly, management, and policy communities. SESYNC brings together diverse groups in new, interdisciplinary collaborations to identify solutions to society’s most challenging and complex environmental problems. Our researchers are encouraged to co-develop research questions with those who apply scholarly knowledge, resulting in scholarship that can inform decision makers.

Because society’s most critical environmental problems are rooted in the multifaceted and deeply interconnected relationships between humans and the natural ecosystems in which they live, they require the unique knowledge sets and perspectives of scientists from both the social and natural sciences. Given that SESYNC was formed to help bridge disciplinary differences, it is essential that we embrace the diversity of perspectives, methods, and cultures each discipline brings to our Center.

SESYNC focuses on a research approach called “synthesis” to produce fundamental knowledge about co-dependent human and natural systems. Synthesis brings together existing but disparate data, methods, theories, and tools in new and perhaps unexpected ways to reveal relationships or to generate novel insights. Synthesis is a highly varied effort, and its definition will change depending upon the lens of those who undertake it. However, in all cases, synthesis is a means for accelerating scientific understanding that is applicable across multiple places and scales.

SESYNC—funded through an award to the University of Maryland from the National Science Foundation—is designed to cut across disciplines, address questions and problems holistically, and identify gaps in previous research.