Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future

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Columbia University Press, Jul 11, 2008 - Science - 352 pages

Complexity theory illuminates the many interactions between natural and social systems, providing a better understanding of the general principles that can help solve some of today's most pressing environmental issues. Complexity theory was developed from key ideas in economics, physics, biology, and the social sciences and contributes to important new concepts for approaching issues of environmental sustainability such as resilience, scaling, and networks.

Complexity Theory for a Sustainable Future is a hands-on treatment of this exciting new body of work and its applications, bridging the gap between theoretical and applied perspectives in the management of complex adaptive systems. Focusing primarily on natural resource management and community-based conservation, the book features contributions by leading scholars in the field, many of whom are among the leaders of the Resilience Alliance. Theoreticians will find a valuable synthesis of new ideas on resilience, sustainability, asymmetries, information processing, scaling, and networks. Managers and policymakers will benefit from the application of these ideas to practical approaches and empirical studies linked to social-ecological systems. Chapters present new twists on such existing approaches as scenario planning, scaling analyses, and adaptive management, and the book concludes with recommendations on how to manage natural resources, how to involve stakeholders in the dynamics of a system, and how to explain the difficult topic of scale. A vital reference for an emerging discipline, this volume provides a clearer understanding of the conditions required for systems self-organization, since the capacity of any system to self-organize is crucial for its sustainability over time.

 

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Contents

IV
9
V
15
VI
46
VII
81
VIII
85
IX
119
X
149
XI
155
XII
180
XIII
207
XIV
209
XV
223
XVI
246
XVII
277
XVIII
295
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About the author (2008)

Jon Norberg is assistant professor of systems ecology at Stockholm University and is affiliated as a researcher with the Stockholm Resilience Center. Coming from a background in ecology, Norberg has become more transdisciplinary, studying the role of social phenomena such as information sharing and trust building for resource management. He completed his post-doc at Princeton University with Simon Levin and has been a long term participant in the resilience alliance.

Graeme S. Cumming is Pola Pasvolsky Chair in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town. He runs a wide-ranging research program that focuses on the broad-scale spatial and temporal dynamics of ecological communities and ecosystems, with particular interests in conservation, resilience, and sustainability.

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