Newsletter No 3 September 2013

Globalizing Our Understanding of Land System Change

June 3 and 4 Jasper van Vliet and Peter Verburg organized a workshop entitled “Globalizing our understanding of land system changes” in collaboration with researchers from UMBC. This event brought together researchers from a wide range of disciplines to discuss drivers and consequences of land system changes globally.

A geographer, ecologist, anthropologist, and economist walk into a research center …

No, it’s not the beginning of a bad joke, but the beginning of a very productive workshop that convened recently at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), in Annapolis, Maryland. On June 3 and 4 IVM researchers Dr. Jasper van Vliet and Prof. Dr. Peter Verburg organized a workshop on globalizing our understanding of land use change, in collaboration with Dr. Nick Magliocca and Dr. Erle Ellis of the university of Maryland at Baltimore County (UMBC)  led scholars, from an array of disciplines and institutions, through an examination of land-use changes. Specifically, the group was interested in using synthesis methods to find patterns among and cultivating shared perspectives on the causes and consequences of land-use change on a global scale, based evidence from a collection of local case studies.

SPACE normal

Although geographers, ecologists, anthropologists, and economists have most certainly researched and synthesized data related to land-use change before, the workshop participants hadn’t all done so together. Scholars from these disciplines have their own journals; their own conferences; their own ways of thinking about problems and approaching solutions. This workshop offered us researchers—who, in most cases, had never before worked with one another—an opportunity to sit at the same table to formulate shared understandings of the drivers and outcomes of land-use change.

The workshop’s principal focus was to determine next steps within a larger research effort of the Global Land Project on globalized understandings of land changes. Our main theme was to discuss how we can synthesize global knowledge on land system changes from locally based case studies. Related to this we conferred on the importance of disseminating research results to communities that make decisions about and are impacted by changes in land use, especially policy makers. “Co-designing” the team’s research agenda—i.e., planning research objectives and approaches together with stakeholders who would use the knowledge generated—will help close the gap between what scientists do and what information policy makers need. By integrating new perspectives, this workshop is driving our work in the Global Land Project forward in novel and exciting ways.

Contact: Jasper van Vliet