Tag Archives: social science

Three social science and sustainability positions at ASU

While Stockholm is looking for one professor in the environmental social sciences, ASU is looking for 3 social scientists working on sustainability.  The job ad is below and applications are due in early January:

The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University invites applications for up to three tenure track faculty positions at the assistant or associate professor level

The School of Sustainability at Arizona State University invites applications for up to three faculty positions either at the tenure-track assistant professor level or tenured associate professor level. The appointment is in an innovative interdisciplinary academic program in sustainability (see http://schoolofsustainability.asu.edu). Applicants must be committed to a research and education program in sustainability and will teach both undergraduate and graduate courses, seek external funding on their own initiative or as part of a team, conduct interdisciplinary sustainability research, publish in sustainability journals in their area of specialization, as well as perform appropriate university, professional, and community service.

The School of Sustainability is the first of its kind: a comprehensive degree-granting program with a transdisciplinary focus on finding real-world solutions to environmental, economic, and social challenges. Established in 2007, the School is part of the Global Institute of Sustainability. Our mission is to bring together multiple disciplines and leaders to create and share knowledge, train a new generation of scholars and practitioners, and develop practical solutions to some of the most pressing environmental, economic, and social challenges of sustainability, especially as they relate to urban areas. The School of Sustainability takes a transdisciplinary approach in its curriculum, addressing a broad spectrum of global challenges, including: energy, materials, and technology; water quality and scarcity; international development; ecosystems; social transformations; food and food systems; and policy and governance.

Successful candidates must have an earned doctorate at the time of appointment in the humanities, sciences, or social sciences, and must demonstrate that sustainability is the core organizing principle in their research, scholarship, and teaching. They must also demonstrate: experience working effectively in interdisciplinary teams; a record of excellence in teaching and other educational activities; a strong record of scholarly achievement and publications appropriate to rank; strong communication skills; and evidence of potential to secure research funding appropriate to rank.

Special emphasis will be placed on candidates who demonstrate rigorous qualitative or quantitative methodological expertise relevant to sustainability scholarship (for example, the analysis of complex adaptive systems, assessment techniques, decision and policy analysis, or participatory [action] research); experience with engaging diverse communities in research practice and problem-solving; research interests at the international level (including collaborative work with partners in developing countries) and innovative approaches to education.

To review and apply to this position, please visit www.academicjobsonline.org and search for the position under the Global Institute of Sustainability. The initial application deadline is January 8, 2012. Applications will continue to be accepted and reviewed weekly thereafter until the search is closed. Applicants must submit a cover letter that addresses the criteria described above, current curriculum vita, statement of teaching philosophy, and the names, phone numbers addresses, and e-mail addresses of three references. Only electronic applications will be accepted. A background check is required for employment. Arizona State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. The School of Sustainability actively encourages diversity among its applicants and workforce.

Stockholm University looking for Professor of Environmental Social Science

For all our great social science colleagues, if you are interested in coming to Stockholm, the Faculty of Social Science at Stockholm University is looking for  a Professor in Environmental Social Science.   You can’t be appointed in Stockholm Resilience Centre, as we aren’t in the Faculty of Social Science but the social and natural scientists at the Stockholm Resilience Centre would be interested in collaborating with whoever gets the position.

The application deadline is 15 February 2012.

The job ad states:

The possible contribution of social science to the understanding of current processes of environmental change covers a wide range of issues. Which aspects of human action and of the human-built environment affect the climate? How do climate and environmental change influence the conditions for a well-functioning society? How are such changes reflected in, for example, the areas of health and economy? How do individuals and societies adapt, at various levels of organization and action, to climatic and environmental change? Which notions of continuity and change in the climate and environment are prevalent in different social contexts? Which are the processes of knowledge and value formation that create such notions? Can one identify tensions between different interpretations?

Job Description
The position entails conducting research and teaching, primarily at the graduate and postgraduate levels. It also entails working with the development and implementation of faculty wide research initiatives and educational partnerships within the area of environmental social science. Furthermore, the position includes networking within the faculty as well as nationally and internationally, in order to strengthen research on climate and environmental issues at the Faculty of Social Science.

The development of environmental social science requires open and non-normative research on all of these questions and presupposes that local as well as global aspects are covered.

The purpose of the announced position as professor is to stimulate the growth of the research area as a whole. Processes that can be related to the core issues of social science as well as to actual human impact on the environment and climate (or vice versa) should be in focus. The starting point should be a solid basis of theoretical and methodological traditions from social science.

Interdisciplinary science – what should we measure, and why?

Research impact assessments of academic environments with bibliometric indicators are becoming increasingly important. Not only do they define where you are placed in international rankings of research institutes, but they are also being used as a basis for distribution of funds. This might sound like a smart and simple way to secure funds for world-leading researchers. But it could also create difficulties for interdisciplinary research environments. Here is one example.
Lennart Olsson from Lund University gave an interesting and critical presentation at the Resilience Conference in Arizona early this year, and presented data indicating that resilience thinking has had very little impact in the social science community. The analysis is the following. First, pick the 10 top-ranked social sciences journals (based on Science Gateway) for a few disciplines. Then, search for articles that contain “social-ecological systems” AND “resilience”. The results:

So, is resilience thinking (from a social science perspective) in crisis? If the ambition is to target mainstream top-political science journals, we sure are. Two issues could be raised here however. One: is this really the best way to measure our impact in the social sciences? Why not (just as one example) look for articles that reference Holling’s, Folke’s or Elinor Ostrom’s work for example?

A second, and I would argue more important objection to the analysis, is whether the sort of metric Olsson uses really captures the core ambition of interdisciplinary research. Bluntly put: isn’t the whole point of building interdisciplinary teams, teaching, methods and research networks, to create innovative sustainability science that is hard to classify as “social” or “natural”? These articles are not likely to fit easily into mono-disciplinary social science journals. If that is the case, how do we measure the scientific success of such attempts, without contributing to an artificial split between the “social” and the “natural”?

I assume many of you have had similar experiences or thoughts. Feel free to share in the comment field below.

Conservation Social Science

Conservation Biology has published three ‘virtual issues’ of Conservation Biology for the International Year of Biodiversity.  The issues each include 10-15 previously published articles from Conservation Biology, but access to these articles is now free of charge.  The virtual issues are:

Two of my articles are in the “Conservation Social Science” issue.  The first article was a collaboration with my Smith Fellows cohort, and the second was written by Tim Holland, who did his Masters with Andrew Gonzalez and I.

Resilience colleagues also have two papers reprinted, the first in the climate change special issue, and the second also in the social science issue

Should climate change research be 90 percent social science?

Nature’s Climate Feedback reports that Hans Joachim Schellnhuber in his talk at the Open Meeting of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) urged social scientists to become more involved in climate change research:

“Speaking as a natural scientist,” he said, “I think 90% of research [on global change] will have to be done by the social scientists.”

…Physicists, he told me at the coffee break, can describe climate threats increasingly vividly and can tell decision-makers that technological solutions are out there. But it’s up to social science, he says, to figure out how we bring about massive economic and social transformation on a tight deadline.

Case in point: feeding solar power from the Sahara where it’s plentiful to Europe where it’s highly in demand, one of Schellnhuber’s favorite ideas. “All the technical problems have been solved,” he says, “but it cannot be done.” We don’t have the legal framework, the transboundary agreements, the international will for this mode of energy delivery.

This is where policy experts, economists, and even anthropologists come in. But, he says, “I don’t think the social science community has grasped the scope of the challenge.” Operating on the basic principle that all groups are different, 95% of social science papers are local case studies, not global-scale work, he says. And indeed, there are an awful lot of case studies among this week’s 800 talks. It remains to be seen whether the picture emerging from the conference will be piecemeal or planet-wide.