From global change science to action with social sciences

  • 11 August 2014
From global change science to action with social sciences

An article co-written by CPO’s Melissa Kenney, Nancy Bellar-Simms, and Claudi Nierenberg has been published in the August issue of Nature Climate Change. The article -- “From global change science to action with social sciences” -- focuses on U.S. efforts to integrate social and biophysical sciences to address the issue of global change. 

These efforts exist within a wider movement to understand global change as a societal challenge and to inform policy. Insights from the social sciences can help transform global change research into action.

Systematic identification, characterization and prioritization of the greatest and most urgent risks we face from global change, along with the appropriate responses, are scientific and societal grand challenges. A central issue confronting national and international research programs is the need to understand linked biophysical and social processes of change, and to do so in a way that supports societal responses to this change. This requires integrating the full range of disciplinary perspectives and contributions from across the global change research enterprise.

Approaches to this integration have their lineage in a broad intellectual movement at least three decades in the making.The authors of this article offer historical perspective on the deepening connection between the social and biophysical sciences in the U.S. and international global change research programs.  The growth of this movement has paralleled the growth in understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, as the important questions have evolved from global-scale enquiries, predominantly based in physical science, to place-based, often socio-ecological and socio-economic questions about what drives these changes, what is at risk, and how we might respond.

 To view the full report in Nature Climate Change, visit:




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