International Network of Research on Coupled Human and Natural Systems (CHANS_Net)

Coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) are integrated systems in which humans and natural components interact. CHANS research recently has emerged as an exciting and integrative field of cross-disciplinary scientific inquiry, with research projects covering a variety of coupled systems in locations spanning the globe. Until now, however, this type of research has largely been undertaken in the traditional mode of individual projects, each focused on one or a small number of sites. Although these individual projects have generated many important insights, it is essential to systematically transform the field to be more than the sum of its parts and to provide broader insights of greater scientific and societal significance than those resulting from individual projects alone. This project aims to foster that transformation by developing an international network of research on CHANS (CHANS-Net) to facilitate communication and collaboration among members of the CHANS research community (e.g., ecologists, social scientists, geoscientists, and engineers). CHANS-Net has four interrelated objectives: (1) To promote communication and collaboration across the CHANS community through virtual interaction; (2) To facilitate communication and collaboration through face-to-face interaction; (3) To generate and disseminate comparative and synthesis scholarship on CHANS complexity; and (4) To strengthen, broaden and diversify the CHANS community. These objectives will be achieved through a series of activities, including the creation of a state-of-the-art web-based Virtual Resource Center to offer timely exchange and dissemination of important information, the organization of symposia and workshops to compare and synthesize the latest research findings and methods on CHANS complexity across various research sites, the publication of first-rate comparative and synthesis results on CHANS complexity, and the establishment of a CHANS Fellows program to enable the participation of students and junior researchers in CHANS-Net activities, with particular efforts to encourage the participation from underrepresented groups. The project will advance discovery and understanding of CHANS complexity by enhancing communication and collaboration across the CHANS community. It will elevate CHANS science to a higher level of synthesis by taking advantage of the knowledge and strengths of the site-based CHANS research. It will offer useful information for researchers in various fields and other people from around the world who are interested in CHANS. It will further stimulate interest in CHANS research and increase the number and the effectiveness of scholars pursuing CHANS research. In addition to the production of scholarly synthesis, this project will yield many other very important products, such as the identification of research gaps and priorities, improvement in methods for rigorous comparative analyses across site-based CHANS studies, training of a new generation of leaders in CHANS research, and building of professional relationships that will lead to longer, deeper, and broader collaboration in the future. This project is supported by the NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH) Program.

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