PROGRAM TITLE:	Methods for Integrated Assessments (MIA)
ACTIVITY STREAM:	Assessment
SCIENCE ELEMENT: 	Climate and Hydrological Systems, Ecosystem 
Dynamics, Human Interactions

 NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:   Integrated assessments constitute new 
approaches for dealing with decision and policy problems for which studies of 
impacts and consequences require broader ranges of information than do 
standard research activities. Key features of integrated assessment problems 
are explicit and important influences of multiple physical and human 
systems, highly interdependent consequences, and fundamental needs for 
interdisciplinary perspectives on the analytical components of the modeled 
systems. Integrated assessments represent a new approach for analyzing 
decision and policy problems that require a broader range of information than 
do standard research activities. Key features of the integrated assessment 
problem are explicit and important influences of multiple physical and 
human systems, highly interdependent consequences, and a fundamental 
need for interdisciplinary perspectives on the analytical components of the 
modeled systems. The integrated assessment approach is particularly relevant 
to decision and policy analysis in global environmental change, large-scale 
technological change, and international socio-political evolution. In 
collaboration with other US/GCRP agencies, NSF is instituting a new focused 
global change research program to develop and evaluate methods for 
integrated assessments (MIA). Key analytical and policy priorities that will be 
addressed are new or enhanced collaborations that link advanced methods in 
statistical analysis, forecasting, modeling, computation, and data management 
to integrated assessment frameworks and new or advanced forms of 
modeling and characterization of significant problems in the development of 
comprehensive integrated assessments, such as the valuation of 
environmental goods, the modeling of ecosystem functions, or the 
development of exploratory and confirmatory techniques for statistical 
inference and prediction in large, complex models. 

STAKEHOLDERS:   MIA is seeking to build and strengthen links between a 
variety of different communities. Through its emphasis on integration of 
modeling of different subsystems of the Earth system, it will lead biological, 
physical, and social scientists to work together more closely. Furthermore, 
MIA will involve mathematicians and others with expertise in different 
analytic and evaluation methods, thereby strengthening connections between 
methodologists and substantive scientists. MIA also will promote interactions 
between researchers and those individuals in policy- making and decision-
making positions within the federal government and other sectors.

POLICY RELEVANCE:   Because integrated assessments have been identified 
as a primary means through which policymakers can identify the extent and 
magnitude of problems and evaluate alternative responses, the impact of 
MIA-sponsored research should be immediate and direct. Capabilities for 
dealing with complex, interrelated systems and for evaluating the likely 
consequences of various mitigation and adaptation strategies will be 
strengthened. In addition, advancement of dialogue among scientists and 
decisionmakers will enable fundamental substantive and methodological 
research to address directly significant issues of concern to decisionmakers.