We live in a highly connected world with escalating technological, economic and social change. As the scale of human activities increases and our society becomes more globalized, we impact an increasing number of earth system processes. Biodiversity loss, resource degradation, and, not least of our concerns, global climate change reflect this situation.
Considering these rapid changes at the planetary scale, ensuring a livable planet and well-being for future generations will require fundamental changes in our infrastructure systems, governance structures, and, perhaps most importantly, human behavior.Extensive research in psychology, economics, and political science provides a solid understanding of human behavior in existing institutional, economic, and social contexts. However, given the profound significance of human behavior in shaping future pathways towards sustainability we argue that a richer understanding of human behavior than we currently have is required, an understanding that takes into account that human behavior is embedded in (affects and is affected by) an economic, social, cultural and ecological context, and that behavior continuously co-evolves with these changing contexts.
The overall mission of the research program BEN (Behavior, Economics and Nature) is to contribute to this new understanding by advancing current research on human behavior, to integrate scientific expertise from a broad set of disciplines, to accelerate and advance world-class, high quality and highly relevant sustainability science. We are interested in uncovering fundamental aspects of human behavior that either enhance or reduce capacity for rapid re-organization and/or transformations, at large scales.
Our approach based on ideas from complex adaptive systems (CAS) approach acknowledges that people take decisions while being embedded and affected by their social-cultural environment and the biosphere they are ultimately dependent upon. Through a CAS approach we can study the interplay between micro and macro levels of action and social organization
Our activities mainly include research and meetings/workshops focused on human behavior as it relates to the biosphere, but we also engage with practitioners from the public and private sector.