Global Knowledge Gaps

Full Title

Assessing global knowledge gaps in local land change studies


Meta-studies of localized case study research are a key methodology for developing generalized knowledge of the causes and consequences of land change at regional to global scales. Global gaps in the geographic coverage, thematic content, and knowledge production processes (methods, data, and semantics) in the case studies used for meta-study research challenge the effectiveness of this approach. The aim of this workshop is to develop a rigorous and widely applicable meta-study framework for assessing these global knowledge gaps. We will do this by convening a small group of meta-study experts to apply this to comprehensive georeferenced databases of case studies in three key areas of land change science (deforestation, biodiversity, and land conflicts) that will be fully prepared for analysis prior to the workshop. Specifically, three interacting frameworks for assessment will be developed: global representativeness analysis to assess geographic gaps and biases, thematic analysis, and knowledge commensurability assessment (consistency of methods, data, semantics). Through this effort, we aim to advance a new standard methodology for global knowledge generation from local studies, and foster a community of practice that will set the standard for synthesis research in land change science and catalyze new synthesis research efforts. In addition, this workshop will lead to a high impact publication with the aim of changing meta-study practice both by critique of current practice and by offering practical standards linked with real-world examples that will provide a clear way forward. This work will be made possible by leveraging the unique database (>1,200 cases) and analytical tools of GLOBE. GLOBE and other geo-cyberinfrastructure efforts have the potential to move land change science as a discipline toward more effective global and regional observational strategies based on quantifying global knowledge gaps in local studies in order to inform the selection of sites for future research.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Erle Ellis, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Ariane de Bremond, University of Maryland
Andreas Heinimann, University of Bern
Wayne Lutters, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Ole Mertz, University of Copenhagen
Peter Messerli, University of Bern
Patrick Meyfroidt, Catholic University of Louvain
Ralf Seppelt, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ
Peter Verburg, VU University Amsterdam
Alyson Young, University of Maryland, Baltimore County