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Our Social and Natural Systems

Researchers in the Environment and Society Program study the relationship between social and natural systems around the world.

Climate change vulnerability, resilience to earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and floods, and the management of natural resources are critical challenges that the world faces in the 21st century. These challenges span the globe, driving program research in South and Central America, the Caribbean, Eastern and Southern Africa, Asia, and the United States. The work of the program has a broad impact beyond academic circles, influencing policymakers and practitioners, as well as the general public. The program is highly interdisciplinary, bringing together expertise in anthropology, economics, geography, history, law, political science, and sociology. E&S scholars have an outstanding record of success in securing external grants to support their research and publish regularly in prestigious national and international journals.

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Program Highlights

We are excited to announce the establishment of a new center within the E&S Program:

The Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology, directed by Dr. Scott Ortman.

  • Professor Lori Peek is the Principal Investigator on a NSF funded project that has established the CONVERGE facility, which is dedicated to advancing the ethical conduct and scientific rigor of convergence research in the hazards and disaster field.
  • Dr. Peter Newton is one of 21 members of a Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Poverty.
  • Dr. Hannah Brenkert-Smith’s research on community wildfire adaptation is especially relevant given the unprecedented wildfires that have spread across the American West.
  • Research Professor Colleen Scanlan Lyons continues her research on an NSF PIRE project that focuses on sustainable artisanal mining in Peru and Colombia as well as Project Director with the Governors’ Forest and Climate Task Force.
  • Drs Andersson, Jacka, and McCabe have all recently published articles in major journals.

Natural Hazards Center

The Natural Hazards Center is one of the nation’s oldest social science-led hazards and disaster research centers For over 40 years, the Natural Hazards Center has served as the National Science Foundation-designated information clearinghouse for the societal dimensions of hazards and disasters.

Center for the Governance of Natural Resources

The Center for the Governance of Natural Resources brings together faculty and graduate students interested in collaborative studies about the social and political origins of effective governance of natural resources.

Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology

The Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology is a hub for research that brings the archaeological record to bear on contemporary issues in the environment and society.

archeological site
aerial view of river in forest

Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force

Protecting forests, reducing emissions, and enhancing livelihoods across 1/3 of the world’s tropical forests.

The Governors’ Climate and Forests (GCF) Task Force is a subnational collaboration of 43+ states and provinces working to protect tropical forests, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and promote realistic pathways to forest-maintaining rural development. We work to support and advance subnational leadership and policy innovation at all levels of government.

Our network connects the people with the processes that promote good environmental governance; green financing; securing territorial rights and the well-being of Indigenous Peoples and local communities; and advancing sustainable, low-emissions economic strategies that safeguard forests and the people who depend upon them.