Breaking the code in social-ecological systems research

Graduate students affiliated with the Arizona State University’s Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment were active this summer organizing a global collaborative network of emerging researchers in the field of social ecological systems and common-pool resources with the goal of providing a more unified methodology to analyze and code coupled social-ecological systems (SES). Organized by Ute Brady and Elicia Ratajczyk from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, a team of graduate students and post-docs hosted a multi-day workshop on July 5-8 2016, through the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, Maryland.


The resulting workshop entitled “Breaking the Code: Synthesizing Coding Efforts for SES Research” involved 71 remote and onsite participants, including graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty from sixteen universities in five different countries. ASU and the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment were well represented, with four graduate students among the organizers (Ratajczyk, Brady, Mar Mancha-Cisneros, and Mady Tyson), one faculty member (J.M. Anderies) and two former affiliates (Jacopo Baggio, who is now an assistant professor at Utah State University, and Allain Barnett, assistant professor at the University of New Brunswick). The graduate student organizers held various satellite meetings before the workshop to increase the productivity and impact of the actual workshop.

In addition to the collaborative network that was developed, the group established a working group to support communication, resources, and advocacy for the network and an online collaboration platform. Several of the groups involved in the workshop have developed research agendas and outlines for the development of publications.

The work produced by this collaborative network of researchers will continue the legacy of the late Nobel Prize winner and CBIE founding director Elinor Ostrom, whose work inspired researchers around the world, many of whom have produced various and related datasets on social-ecological systems and common-pool resources which have yet to be organized.