Past Conference

Integrating Social Science into NSF Observatories

Jan 24, 2007 - Jan 26, 2007

About the Event

Integrating Social Science into National Science
Foundation Observatories
An RFF Workshop
January 24-26, 2007 

In 2001, the National Research Council (NRC) identified eight "grand challenges" in environmental science research. These challenges define key research questions which require significant and sustained multidisciplinary collaboration. Effectively responding to these challenges further requires both new social science research and its full integration into ongoing environmental science and engineering research and practice.

For a variety of reasons, this multidisciplinary integration process, as it is occurring in NSF Observatories (specifically CLEANER and CUAHSI (merged into WATERS), and NEON) and in the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER), needs improvement and encouragement. The objectives of the workshop are to identify the fundamental organizational, informational, infrastructural, and financial structures required to effectively support integrated social and natural science evaluations of coupled human-natural systems.

Additionally, this workshop focuses on clarifying the analytical research questions and identifying the substantive linkages between these two sets of disciplines in the Observatory context. It is also hoped that this workshop will help to build consensus among social and natural scientists and the relevant NSF directorates on a broad research and implementation agenda for advancing the role of social science research at the observatories.

The following workshop documents are available in PDF format:


link to report

Rising to the Challenge: Integrating Social Science into NSF Environmental Observatories
September 2007


Day 1 - State of Play: Social Science at NSF Observatories

Welcome and Introduction - Goals of the Workshop

  • Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future
  • Patrick Brezonik, National Science Foundation

NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Welcome

  • Edward Hackett, National Science Foundation

  • David Lightfoot, National Science Foundation
The Case for Integration
  • Rita Colwell, University of Maryland



Link to presentation

Elements of Integration
(overview of the four key white paper topics: planning/organization, funding/support, infrastructure/facilities, data/information)


  • Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future
  • Shalini Vajjhala, Resources for the Future

Link to presentation

Experiences with Integration at NSF Observatories

CLEANER/WATERS: Barbara Minsker, University of Illinois
Link to presentation

CLEANER/WATERS: Mitchell Small, Carnegie Mellon University
Link to presentation
CUAHSI/WATERS: Richard Hooper, CUAHSI Link to Presentation

LTER: Dan Childers, Florida International University
Link to presentation

NEON: Bruce Hayden, University of Virginia


NEON: Morgan Grove, USDA Forest Service

Ingredients of Multidisciplinary Success


  • Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University
Link to presentation

Key Topic 1: Planning/Organization


  • Alan Krupnick, Resources for the Future
Link to presentation


Key Topic 2: Information/Core Data


  • Shalini Vajjhala, Resources for the Future


  • Alan J. Krupnick, Senior Fellow, Resources for the Future
  • Shalini Vajjhala, Fellow - <i>On leave as Deputy Associate Director for Energy and Climate at the President’s Council on Environmental Quality</i>