Socio-Environmental Systems (SES) research: What have we learned and how can we use this information in future research programs


The call for integrated social–environmental science, complete with outreach to applications and solutions, is escalating worldwide. Drawing on several decades of experience, researchers engaged in such science, completed an assessment of the design and management attributes and impact pathways that lead to successful projects and programs and to understand key impediments to success. These characteristics are delineated and discussed using examples from individual projects and programs. From this, three principal lessons leading to successful efforts emerge that address co-design, adaptive or flexible management, and diversity of knowledge. In addition, five challenges for this science are identified: accounting for change, addressing sponsorship and timelines, appreciating different knowledge systems, adaptively communicating, and improving linkages to policy.

Publication Type
Journal Article
B.L. Turner II
Karen J. Esler
Peter Bridgewater, Australian National University
Joshua Tewksbury, University of Washington
Nadia Sitas, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Brent Abrahams, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
F Stuart Chapin
Rinku Roy Chowdhury, Clark University
Patrick Christie, University of Washington
Penny Firth, retired (formerly National Science Foundation)
Corrine N. Knapp
Rik Leemans
Diana Pietri, University of Washington
Jeremy Pittman, University of Waterloo
José Sarukhán, Conabio
Ross Shackleton, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Reinmar Seidler, University of Massachusetts Boston
Brian van Wilgen, Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability