Design Considerations for Complex Integrated Projects

Full Title

Integrated natural-social science-stakeholder projects (NSSSP) - Lessons learned


Over the past couple of decades there have been a large number of projects, large and small, global to local, that have attempted to utilize integrated natural and social scientists to address problems of importance to stakeholders and decision makers. This research mode has come into favor in funding agencies with calls for proposals utilizing this research paradigm with considerable resources being devoted to this trend. The genesis of the need for more work in this area is certainly complex but no doubt stems in part from the poor acceptance of science by society, in general, in a number of areas such as climate science. Excellent science, even on critical issues, which clearly impacts the welfare of society that is only deposited in technical journals, does not have much impact on the decisions that individuals in a given community make or decision makers more generally.

What is proposed here is a workshop to evaluate the results of a series of case studies, ranging from global to local that have addressed environmental issues. We will probe the added value of an integrated approach to the problems that were addressed, and the lessons learned in their operation—what worked and what were the obstacles that were met and how they were overcome, or not. Were the results gained from the program of value to all participants: scientists, stakeholders, and decision makers? In retrospect, how these programs could have been better designed to achieve their goals including the organizational structure of the effort. In addition, we will examine the experiences of funding agencies that have supported these integrated programs to learn the approaches they have used to fund and evaluate these efforts and what recommendations they might have for future efforts.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Harold Mooney, Stanford University
Brent Abrahams, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Thomas Baerwald, National Science Foundation
Peter Bridgewater, Australian National University
F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University
Patrick Christie, University of Washington
Karen Esler, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Penny Firth, retired (formerly National Science Foundation)
Corinne Knapp, Western State Colorado University
Henricus Balthasar Joseph Leemans, Wageningen University
Diana Pietri, University of Washington
Jeremy Pittman, University of Waterloo
José Sarukhán, Conabio
Reinmar Seidler, University of Massachusetts Boston
Ross Shackleton, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Nadia Sitas, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Joshua Tewksbury, University of Washington
Billie Turner II, Arizona State University
Brian van Wilgen, Universiteit van Stellenbosch