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Global Change Research Institute, CAS

Department of social-ecological analysis

The Department of Socio-Ecological Analysis (SE Lab) explores how to better understand the links between society and the environment and how to leverage this knowledge in pursuing sustainability pathways.

To achieve this goal in the SE Lab, we:

  • Combine approaches from social sciences, humanities and natural sciences,
  • Actively engage with actors outside academia (practitioners, policy makers, civil society and NGOs),
  • Emphasise knowledge exchange between science, policy-making and practice,
  • Carry out research across geographical and cultural contexts (Europe, Africa, Latin America).

Key research topics and questions

Theme 1: Social-ecological scenarios

Social-ecological scenarios describe potential future development of the links between nature and society. Scenario design and analysis help us better understand how future interactions between society and the natural environment may look like and how to make robust decisions in the face of future uncertainty. A specific type of scenario, sustainability pathways, help us understand what steps towards sustainability are possible, for which specific actors, which of these steps we prefer as a society, and who should advocate for them.

Related projects: BIONEXT (Horizon Europe), TRANSPATH (Horizon Europe), Just Scapes (JPI Climate Solstice), Coop4Wellbeing (Technology Agency of the Czech Republic)

Theme 2: Social-ecological resilience

Social-ecological resilience is the resilience of the interconnected systems of society and the natural environment. Its research allows us to understand which social processes influence to what extent we are resilient to global change and its impacts, or which nature-based measures (e.g. urban green areas) contribute to building social resilience.

Related projects: SYRI – National Institute for Research on the Socioeconomic Impact of Diseases and Systemic Risks (EU National Recovery and Resilience Plan)

Theme 3: The role of knowledge in shaping social-ecological systems

The role of knowledge, its co-production and transfer is key to shaping the social-ecological systems around us and achieving sustainability. Our research explores how knowledge on the links between social and natural dynamics actually translates into the functioning of our society, how to enhance the effectiveness of the knowledge gained, and how science-policy interfaces (e.g. IPBES, IPCC) can contribute in this respect.

Related projects: BIONEXT (Horizon Europe), Coop4Wellbeing (Technology Agency of the Czech Republic), involvement of the department members in IPBES

Research approaches and methods

The work of the department draws on a range of disciplines at the intersection of social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, including sustainability science, social geography, development studies, environmental studies, anthropology and design. The department focuses on transdisciplinary and participatory research approaches, using mixed methods, stakeholder mapping and analysis, workshops, focus groups, interviews, observations, design approaches and other methods of data collection and knowledge co-design.