Research Design

A Three-Fold Approach

Historical ecology integrates the history of the Earth´s biophysical system with the history of human life in all its aspects. This holistic perspective draws from the biophysical sciences, social sciences, and the humanities, and necessitates the use of diverse data such as documents, archaeology, environmental information, and local knowledge. Landscapes and regions, studied at different scales across time and space, offer a human-scale focus for the study of change.

Environmental humanities draw humanities disciplines into conversation with each other and with the natural and social sciences. Environmental humanists address the impact of humans and human cognition on physical reality and their consequences, paying particular attention to how our perspectives on nature — attitudes, beliefs and values — are shaped by our myths, legends, ideology, aesthetics, politics, religion, and science.

Future Studies incorporate complex adaptive systems (CAS), an aggregate of several strands of investigation now widely applied in the biological, physical, and social sciences. CAS concepts (such as nonlinearity, initial conditions, emergence, basins of attraction, and path dependence), applied to the dynamics of human societies, can offer new insights for scenario and modeling projects. Looking beyond periods of relative stability to periods of transition can offer valuable lessons for the future.