Collaborative proposal: Workshop on Best Practices for Integrating the Social Sciences and Natural Sciences for Sustainability Research and Education
This workshop brings together scholars who are doing research that involves team-based, interdisciplinary, integrative research focused on the social sciences in collaboration with natural sciences and engineering. The purpose is to explore lessons learned from such research toward producing a report of best practices for integrating the social sciences with the biophysical sciences, mathematics, and engineering for sustainability science. The workshop explores what works, what doesn't work and why in order to engage these leaders in questions of how to best mentor emerging integrative scientists, to identify the key technologies which are critical to enabling integrative sustainability science and to provide structured guidance on how to integrate the social sciences in sustainability research and education. These best practices are directed at diverse audiences ranging from NSF and other funding program decision makers to researchers and education experts engaged in sustainability programs.
Sustainability science encompasses a myriad range of issues and processes that involve diverse aspects of the natural world and the societies that are part of it. It is only through an understanding of these latter phenomena that likely solutions will be derived. Moreover, the approaches to sustainability science have to address the multitude of worldviews and values that comprise the roots of the many challenges we currently face. To date, no meeting has occurred in the Americas to clearly articulate what has become an overwhelming call to find effective and powerful ways to incorporate the social sciences, and an understanding of social dynamics, into sustainability science.
To achieve sustainability, decision makers must learn to integrate knowledge and methods from the natural sciences, engineering, and the social sciences. Solutions are neither purely technical nor socio-economic, but involve bringing together best practices from all fields. This workshop is a step toward learning how to do the necessary integration.