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Developing an Integrated History and Future of People on Earth (IHOPE)

Costanza, R., S. van der Leeuw, K. Hibbard, S. Aulenbach, S. Brewer, M. Burek, S. Cornell, C. Crumley, J. Dearing, C. Folke, L. Graumlich, M. Hegmon, S. Heckbert, S.T. Jackson, I. Kubiszewski, V. Scarborough, P. Sinclair, S. Sörlin, and W. Steffen Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability (2012) 4:106-114 DOI 10.1016/j.cosust.2012.01.010

Abstract:

The Integrated History and future of People on Earth (IHOPE) initiative is a global network of researchers and research projects with its International Program Office (IPO) now based at the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC), Uppsala University, Arizona State University, Portland State University, and the Australian National University. Research linked to IHOPE demonstrates that Earth system changes in the past have been strongly associated with changes in the coupled human– environment system. IHOPE supports integrating knowledge and resources from the biophysical and the social sciences and the humanities to address analytical and interpretive issues associated with coupled human–earth system dynamics. This integration of human history and Earth system history is a timely and important task. Until recently, however, there have been few attempts at such integration. IHOPE will create frameworks that can be used to help achieve this integration. The overarching goal is to produce a rich understanding of the relationships between environmental and human processes over the past millennia. IHOPE recognizes that one major challenge for reaching this goal is developing ‘workable’ terminology that can be accepted by scholars of all disciplines.The specific objectives for IHOPE are to identify slow and rapidly moving features of complex social– ecological systems, on local to continental spatial scales, which induce resilience, stress, or collapse in linked systems of humans in nature. These objectives will be reached by exploring innovative ways of conducting interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary science, including theory, case studies, and integrated modeling. Examples of projects underway to implement this initiative are briefly discussed.

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Keywords: Earth system change, earth system history, interdisciplinary science, transdisciplinary science

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