Globalization describes the increasing interactions among cultures, economies, and societies across the world at multiple scales, driven by trade, investment, communication, or travel. Many aspects of the natural environment—including climate, natural resource stocks, and ecological structure and function—may influence or be influenced by globalization, in turn affecting the way that people derive value from the environment. Similarly, globalization may lead to socio-cultural changes that influence natural resources and their use.
Scholars have argued that globalization may lead to increasing similarity (“homogenization”) among natural systems, while economic, socio-cultural, and political systems may converge, diverge, or move toward some hybrid state. Under this Theme, SESYNC sought proposals for synthesis research focused on increasing fundamental knowledge related to the interaction of social and environmental systems as they respond to globalization.
Examples of research questions under this Theme might broadly include (but are in no way limited to):
- Under what circumstances do processes of globalization lead to diversification vs. homogenization within and across cultural or environmental systems?
- How can formal and informal institutions, political coalitions, and social movements act to maximize the societal benefits of foreign investment while limiting the risks to environmental and/or cultural diversity?
- How do technologies that facilitate rapid communications across wider areas alter environmental resource management and allocations? How can these technologies be employed to enhance ecosystem functioning and the sustainable provisioning of diverse resources?