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PIRE Collaborative Research and Training in Social Context, Population Processes, and Environmental Change

OISE #0729709, 2007-2012, Funded by the National Science Foundation

With funding from the National Science Foundation, we propose a novel, interdisciplinary and multi-site project for comparative studies on population-environment interaction by linking two separate state-of-the-art and well-established international research programs. The field sites for these two studies are in Nepal and China, two high-profile settings where large, growing populations, rapidly changing economies, unique biodiversity and complex institutional structures offer tremendous research and educational opportunities. Our project involves trainees at multiple levels (from undergraduate students to junior faculty) at five major U.S. universities, as well as researchers and trainees from four institutions in Nepal and China. The research objectives are to:

  1. improve case-specific understanding of patterns and processes affecting vegetation and habitats for three important endangered species (pandas, rhinos, and tigers);
  2. achieve cross-case comparison of these dynamic patterns and processes; and
  3. establish widely applicable tools needed for cross-case comparison in population-environment interaction.

Our educational objective is to train a new generation of scientists skilled at conducting new international cross-case comparisons of human-environment interaction. The educational activities will be closely integrated with research activities, with a focus on learning and practicing the concepts and methods needed to bridge key disciplines and foster close international collaborations. The objectives will be achieved through innovative methods, such as community history calendars, remote sensing techniques, geographic information systems, multivariate statistical tools, and agent-based modeling. The project will build on existing training programs at the five U.S. Universities, adding an annual two-week intensive workshop in Michigan that will feature social and ecological research methods. This workshop will be for the trainees at our five U.S. universities as well as other participants identified through a national competition. This project will also sponsor travel to research and training sites in Nepal and China by U.S. faculty and trainees to collaborate on research at those sites and receive setting-specific hands-on training. It will effectively promote outstanding international collaborative research and education because it nicely builds upon:

  1. exceptional interdisciplinary training programs already operating at our five U.S. universities; and
  2. long-term productive programs of bilateral research on human-environment interactions in Nepal and China.

Principal Investigator: William Axinn (University of Michigan)
CePoD Involvement: Scott Yabiku (Co-Principal Investigator)

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T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics
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