Organization: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Research Title: Human Dimensions of Global Change

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 11.1
FY95 17.6
FY96 12.2

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) Social and Economic Sciences Research Subcommittee Risk Assessment Group, NSTC Committee on Fundamental Science
(b) Environmental Issue: Other - Individual, Institutional, and Social Behaviors in the Context of Global Environmental Change (60%); Large-Scale Changes in Land-Use (20%); Climate Change (10%); Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation (10%)
(c) Research Activity: Impacts and Adaptation: Socioeconomic Systems (40%); Socioeconomic Driving Forces (30%) Assessments: Integrated (10%); Risk (10%); Cost/Benefit (10%)

Organizational Component:
Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research Division
Directorate for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Geography and Regional Science Program
NSF/SBER Room 995
4201 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22230

Point of Contact: Robin Cantor
Phone: 703-306-1757
E-Mail: rcantor@nsf.gov

Research Goals:
To improve our understanding of the interactions between human and natural systems within various decision, policy, or institutional frameworks.

Research Description:
The HDGC program supports research on human interactions in global change, including both direct human activity and indirect social, structural, and institutional issues affecting global change. Emphasis is given to research that contributes to general understandings of the ways that human activities impact on natural systems; of the ways that humans (both individually and collectively) respond to changing environmental conditions; and of the complex ways that human systems interact with natural systems in a dynamic framework. Special attention is given to the economics of global change, including research on economic forces affecting and affected by global change; resource impacts and adaptation; the value of information and decision making under uncertainty; economic forces shaping technology and practice linked to global change; and economic evaluation of different types of policies and policy instruments. Other types of projects supported include inquiries into risk perception and assessment by individuals and groups; the impact of social and cultural forces on human activities and the perception of and response to global change; geographic variations in the form and character of human-environmental interaction; and mathematical approaches to data collection and management, analyses, and modeling. A new emphasis of the program in FY 1995 will be advancement of research on policy science, especially research focusing on the data, analytical methods, and models needed to address develop, implement, manage, and evaluate environmental policies.

Program Interfaces:
The program has had and will continue to have strong ties to other federal agencies with related programs emphasizing the human dimensions of global change and social science. Additionally, the program complements and partially supports the work of the international Human Dimensions of Global Change Programme. It also provides support for activities undertaken by the Social Science Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences to integrate social and economic scientists into global change research.

Program Milestones:
- Continued conduct of research projects on significant topics regarding human- environmental interactions within a decision, policy, or institutional context in 1995 and subsequent years.
- Establishment of multi-disciplinary research programs focusing on significant topical and methodological issues related to the human dimensions of global change by the end of 1995.
- Conduct of research projects that analyze human adaptations, the processes affecting environmental policies, and the basic tools for analyzing environmental policies from 1995 to 1999.

Policy Payoffs:
Policy payoffs include expanded knowledge of the dynamics of human impacts on natural systems and the form, character, and magnitude of human responses to environmental change. As a result, understandings of processes, predictive models, and capabilities for evaluating policy and response alternatives will be improved. Policy science investigations will contribute over both short and longer terms to advancing understanding of the processes through which policies are developed, implemented, managed, and evaluated effectively. Benefits will accrue to policy makers at all levels with respect to increasing understandings of the ways that humans respond through individual and collective action to changing environmental conditions and to possible changes in human activity as would occur through various mitigation and adaptation strategies. Such an improved knowledge base provides sounder scientific bases for understanding fundamental social and behavioral processes, for modeling and predicting future activities, and for assessing the likely impact and efficacy of various types of policies and response strategies.