Report from the LTER All Scientist Meeting Workshops, August 2-4, 2000

"Strategies for Integration of Social, Natural, and
Earth Sciences in the LTER  Network"

Organizers: Jennifer Edmonds (Central Arizona Project-LTER) and Dr. Morgan Grove (Baltimore Ecosystem Study-LTER)

Workshop Abstract:
    Linking physical, biological, and social sciences has become an area of great interest in the LTER Network. Social scientists have begun working at several LTER sites to add to our understanding of these ecosystems by exploring the interaction of humans with other populations, energy flow, and nutrient cycling, etc. To further this research interest, the LTER network established two urban LTER sites (Phoenix and Baltimore) in 1997, where   interdisciplinary work is used extensively to understand ecosystems heavily influenced by humans. These new ecological research efforts in urban environments has made it evident that there is a pressing need for scientists who are able to work effectively in interdisciplinary groups.
     A number of methods, tools, and techniques for integration have begun to emerge already: GIS and maps (spatial analyses); hierarchical approaches (scale); historical analyses; comparative studies; place-based, problem-focused research; checklists of core areas and concepts; explicit use and linkages of theory across disciplines; integrated data protocols, and models as heuristic devices. The purpose of this workshop is to further explore methods, tools, and techniques for integration. We propose to use case studies from existing work as fodder for discussion.

Workshop leaders and their visual aids:
Neely Law, Univeristy of North Carolina (Baltimore Ecosystem Study):
Christian Leveque, Center National De La Recherché Scientifique:
Sarah Robinson, Arizona State University (Central Arizona Project):
Matthew A. Wilson, University of Wisconsin (North Temperate Lakes):

Workshop Schedule:
    9:00- 9:15am: Introductory remarks
    9:15- 9:45am: Case study #1- Matthew Wilson: Valuing Ecosystem Goods and Services in the Field: Exploring the Role
                                                  of Survey Questionnaires and Face-To-Face Interviews
    9:45- 10:10am: Case study #2- Christian Leveque
   10:10- 10:20am: Case study #3- Sarah Robinson
   10:20- 10:40am: Case study #4- Neely Law: Households as Ecological Agents- Integrating household survey
                                                     information in a spatially-explicit, dynamic urban watershed model.
   10:45- 11:45am: Panel discussion based around 4 discussion questions (see below)

Workshop Discussion Summary
The first step to interdisciplinary work that spans two or more disciplines and/or crosses the "great divide" between life/earth sciences and social sciences is to emphasize integrated questions.
Dr. Leveque's talk gave an excellent overview of the importance of seeking questions that are intersting to both natural and social scientist from the inception of any reserach agenda.

Discussion also focused on routines for decision makers' involvement at LTER sites, and how valuable it could be to have a policy maker/ enforcerer present at the table when reserach questions are formulated.

There are many institutional barriers to integrated research.  To overcome these, we can use group techniques, surveys, or cross-site comparisons.  These exercises  might provide foder for arguement at own site. We want to know, who asks the research questions? The answer is often what determines our perception of where the bias in the question derives, whether or not it exists.

What do you consider to be important or interesting issues related to:
    (1) How the socio-natural system you work with developed (co-organize) and the directions in which it is going?

(a) The unit of analysis differs by discipline. In Neely's analysis, it could be the household, larger settlement units, or the "sewage shed".   The unit of analysis must be determined after identifying the relative significant drivers, which may differ at different scales.
(b) Spatial heterogeneity is important to consider.  We need to link scale(s) to reserach/decision making questions.
(c) Feedback to humans from environment are not pursued by social scientists; may be a disservice to the integration.
    (2) How the characteristics of the ecological system in your region influenced the social patterns and processes that have        emerged?
(a) This is an area that may be ignored by social scientist; the feedbacks from the environment back to human systems does exist.
(b) Attitudes and values affect perceived realities, hence identifying these values is important.
(c) The importance of multiple actors should be emphasized.
    (3) How these social patterns and have influenced the use and management of ecological resources?
(a) Need more funding to answer these questions.
    (4) How these interactions are changing over time, and  it means for the state of the socio-natural system?
(a) Key social concept that has only been explored in certain cases (including Grove dissertation) is social stratification.
(b) Who decides what the questions are?  Discipline, institution?  Does the inclusion of decision makers affect the scope and nature of interdisciplinary research?

Workshop Participants,


Sites that combine natural and social sciences
(but that do not necessarily represent the views of the LTER network)

UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Its constitution was adopted by the London Conference in November 1945, and entered into effect on the 4th of November 1946 when 20 states had deposited
instruments of acceptance. It currently has 188 Member States (as of 19 October 1999).  The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations. To fulfill its mandate, UNESCO performs five principal functions :
          (1) Prospective Studies : what forms of education, science, culture and communication for tomorrow's world?
          (2) The advancement, transfer and sharing of knowledge : relying primarily on research, training and teaching activities.
          (3) Standard-setting action : the preparation and adoption of international instruments and statutory recommendations.
          (4) Expertise : provided to Member States for their development policies and projects in the form of "technical co-operation".
          (5) Exchange of specialized information.

Integrative Graduate and Educational Research Training (IGERT) Program at the University of Wisconsin
The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Rural Sociology and Center for Limnology are the recipients of a National Science Foundation (NSF), Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Grant Program (IGERT). NSF initiated the IGERT Program in response to the growing need for professional scientists and engineers with the multidisciplinary skills necessary to meet the needs of future career demands. The IGERT Program is designed to promote multidisciplinary graduate training, through innovative, research-based, graduate education and training activities.  Nowhere is the need for professional scientists and engineers with interdisciplinary skills greater than the current environmental and ecological dilemmas faced by modern social systems. The UW-Madison IGERT Program is designed to enable to development of science and engineering professionals who have the opportunity to specialize in their core disciplines, while acquiring key interdisciplinary communication skills to facilitate collaborative research to address complex environmental and ecological issues. This Program will be facilitated by establishing a team of Doctoral Trainees from diverse home disciplines, who will design and implement research addressing interactions and potential conflicts among social and aquatic systems in Wisconsin The central themes of the UW-Madison IGERT Training Program include: the role of irreversibility in social-aquatic system interactions; the relevance of scale to research design; and approaches for addressing uncertainty in the social and ecological sciences in collaborative research.

Integrative Graduate and Educational Research Training (IGERT) Program at Arizona State University

National Center for Ecological Application and Synthesis
At NCEAS, scientists conduct collaborative research on major fundamental and applied problems in ecology. The Center facilitates integrative research aimed at synthesizing existing data and information, and subsequently making these data available in accordance with our data policy. It fosters new techniques in mathematical modeling, dynamic simulation, visualization of ecological systems, and digital mapping of complex ecological phenomena. NCEAS provides special educational opportunities to graduate students and young scientists, and disseminates the results of its research to potential users.

American Sociological Association
Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations, and societies, and how people interact within these contexts. Since all human behavior is social, the subject matter of sociology ranges from the intimate family to the hostile mob; from organized crime to religious cults; from the divisions of race, gender and social class to the shared beliefs of a common culture; and from the sociology of work to the sociology of sports. In fact, few fields have such broad scope and relevance for research, theory, and application of knowledge.

Association of American Geographers

1995 International Union of Forestry Research Organizations XX World Congress
Title of conference, "Caring for the Forest: Research in a Changing World".  If critical environmental, social and economic global needs are to be met, today and in the future, forestry research requires more effective use and exchange of information between stakeholders, more interdisciplinary collaboration, and committed global partnerships. Enhanced scientific effort for sustainable forest management must work with reduced overall resources, while recognizing increasingly complex societal roles and needs.

International Society of Ecological Economics
ISEE is a nonprofit, member-governed, organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the relationships
among ecological, social, and economic systems for the mutual well-being of nature and people. The Society assists its members and ecological economists
generally, regional societies of ecological economics,related societies, and other organizations in such matters of common concern as can be dealt with more effectively by united action. To this end, the Society publishes a research journal, books, and other materials; holds and sponsors scientific meetings; develops educational materials; and facilitates a voice for ecological economists in public forums.

Population Council
An international, nonprofit institution that conducts research on three fronts: biomedical, social science, and public health. This research—and the
information it produces—helps change the way people think about problems related to reproductive health and population growth. Our research makes a
difference in people’s lives.

United States Aid for International Development
The U.S Agency for International Development is the U.S. federal government agency that implements America's foreign economic and humanitarian assistance programs. USAID's history goes back to the Marshall Plan reconstruction of Europe after World War Two and the Truman Administration's Point Four Program. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act into law and created by executive order USAID.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

United Nations

Brookings Institution
In its research, The Brookings Institution functions as an independent analyst and critic, committed to publishing its findings for the information of the public. In its  conferences and activities, it serves as a bridge between scholarship and policy, bringing new knowledge to the attention of decisionmakers and affording scholars a better insight into public policy issues.

World Bank

World Health Organization (WHO)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Peace Corps

From its inception in the days following World War II, RAND (a contraction of the term research and development) has focused on the nation's most pressing policy problems. High-quality, objective research on national security became the institution's first hallmark. In the 1960s, and in the same spirit, RAND began addressing major problems of domestic policy as well. Today, RAND researchers operate on a uniquely broad front, assisting public  policymakers at all levels, private-sector leaders in many industries, and the public at large in efforts to strengthen the nation's economy,  maintain its security, and improve its quality of life. They do so by analyzing choices and developments in many areas, including national defense, education and training, health care, criminal and civil justice, labor and population, science and technology, community development, international relations, and regional studies. See the 1999 RAND Research Highlights for an overview of key research accomplishments in 1999. RAND also offers several advanced training programs, for example, the RAND Graduate School's doctoral program in policy analysis.