Socio-Environmental Immersion Program

The recognition that all environmental problems are social problems, and that people are a central component of environmental systems, has led to growth in research under the rubric of socio-environmental (S-E) science. This research emerged from many scholarly traditions including economics, sociology, ecology, and anthropology. Each of these traditions has distinct theories and epistemologies that influence the frameworks, methods, and approaches that are integral to conducting and contributing to research on S-E problems and issues.

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)'s Immersion Program is a core part of the postdoctoral experience at SESYNC. In addition to pursuing their own synthesis research projects, postdoctoral fellows participate in many SESYNC activities including the Immersion Program which is organized to study the following questions:

  • How do the theories, epistemologies, frameworks, methods, and approaches of disciplines in S-E science relate to one another?
  • What level of knowledge of these different traditions is desirable for researchers from one discipline to work productively in transdisciplinary groups?

The Immersion Program is based on the principle that diving into new ideas in the context of problems familiar from one’s own disciplinary tradition will support learning and later application of these ideas. Participants are encouraged to work with one another and other scholars to produce synthetic papers or products that integrate theory and methods across disciplines to understand the dynamics of coupled S-E systems.

Format

The Immersion Program centers around a series of collaborative workshops led by Immersion Distinguished Scholars. These workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying S-E systems. This year (2018-2019), five collaborative workshops, each lasting two or three days, will be led by eminent scholars in interdisciplinary skills, team science skills, facilitation, meeting design, synthesis opportunities, hydrology and water security for S-E systems, land use sciences, and methods in social science.

Each workshop consists of lectures and plenary discussions, small group discussions, and informal conversations. Workshops are facilitated by SESYNC research staff and leadership, as well as by Immersion Program mentors who attend each workshop. Last year’s five successful workshops focused on policy sciences and geography, interdisciplinary team science, economics, and actionable science.

Program Mentors

Mentors of the Immersion Program facilitate workshop discussions and after the workshops, help to distill and integrate key ideas, and catalyze the production of manuscripts by participants for submission to high-impact peer-reviewed journals.

The Immersion Program Mentors for 2018-2019 are Julie Silva and Christine Maietta, assisted by Simone Pulver

The Immersion Program Mentors for 2017-2018 were Morgan Grove and Cynthia Wei, assisted by Chris Trisos

The Immersion Program Mentor lead for 2016-2017 was Morgan Grove.

The Immersion Program Mentors for 2015-2016 were Olaf Jensen and Simone Pulver. Click here for more information.

Program Participants

Each workshop is attended by current SESYNC Postdoctoral Fellows, as well as Immersion Program Fellows who are early career scholars at other institutions. The disciplinary make-up of the group is varied, with roughly half falling into the natural sciences and half into the social sciences. Many of the participants have extensive interdisciplinary backgrounds, and all are currently working on research and policy projects related to S-E problems.

For more information about the 2018-19 participants, click here.

For more information about the 2017-18 participants, click here.

For more information about the 2016-17 participants, click here.

For more information about the 2015-16 participants, click here.

Remote Participation & Resources

All reading and video material for the workshops are available through the links below. Lectures will be streamed live through the SESYNC website and on YouTube.; connection details can be found in the links below.

Events
Mar 05, 2019 to Mar 06, 2019
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Methods in Social Science
The distinguished scholars for the Methods in Social Science Immersion Workshop are Peter S. Alagona, UC-Santa Barbara; Shannon Elizabeth Bell, Virginia Tech; Paige West, Columbia University. 
Feb 05, 2019 to Feb 06, 2019
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Land Use Sciences
The distinguished scholars for the Land Use Sciences Immersion Workshop are Patrick Meyfroidt, Universite catholique de Louvain, Belgium; Tatiana Loboda, University of  Maryland; Alexander Zvoleff, Conservation International. 
Nov 15, 2018 to Nov 16, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Hydrology and Water Security for S-E Systems
The distinguished scholars for the Hydrology and Water Security for S-E Systems Immersion Workshop are David Kaplan, University of Florida; Brian Chaffin, University of Montana; Tara Troy, Leigh University.
Oct 30, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Facilitation, Meeting Design, Synthesis Opportunities
The distinguished scholars for the Facilitation, Meeting Design, Synthesis Opportunities Immersion Workshop are Jon Kramer, SESYNC; and Jim Boyd, RFF. 
Oct 29, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Team Science Skills
The distinguished scholars for the Team Science Skills Immersion Workshop is Jon Kramer, SESYNC. 
Oct 02, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Interdisciplinary Skills
The distinguished scholar for the Interdisciplinary Skills Immersion Workshop is Deana Pennington, University of Texas at El Paso. 
Apr 23, 2018 to Apr 25, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Actionable Science
The distinguished scholars for the Actionable Science Immersion Workshop are Kristin Baja, Urban Sustainability Directors Network; Melissa A. Kenney, University of Maryland; Betsy Otto, World Resources Institute; Astrid Caldas, Union of Concerned Scientists; Betsy Cody, Congressional Research Service; and Richard Pouyat, Ecological Society of America.
Feb 12, 2018 to Feb 14, 2018
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Economics
Postdoctoral Immersion Workshop on Economics.The Immersion Program centers around a series of collaborative workshops led by Immersion Distinguished Scholars. These workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying socio-environmental systems. 
Nov 06, 2017 to Nov 08, 2017
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Interdisciplinary Team Science
Postdoctoral Immersion Workshop on Interdisciplinary Team Science.The Immersion Program centers around a series of collaborative workshops led by Immersion Distinguished Scholars. These workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying socio-environmental systems.  
Oct 16, 2017 to Oct 18, 2017
Immersion Distinguished Scholar Workshop: Policy Sciences and Geography
Postdoctoral Immersion Workshop on Policy Sciences and Geography.The Immersion Program centers around a series of collaborative workshops led by Immersion Distinguished Scholars. These workshops are designed to immerse participants in theories and methods foundational to understanding current environmental challenges and their underlying socio-environmental systems.  

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