Building Sustainable Communities

Overview

People are at the center of environmental challenges and solutions. By considering linked needs for society to achieve resilience and sustainability, the cross-college, multi-disciplinary Building Sustainable Communities Signature Research Area identifies equitable and effective solutions for addressing global environmental change.

Our mission is to connect scholars working on social, ecological, and technical systems to address how to create more just and sustainable futures. We focus on five overlapping areas:

  1. Decision making and governance
  2. Human behavior, values and cultural norms
  3. Critical infrastructure systems
  4. Complex social-ecological systems and dynamics
  5. Participatory research designs.

In all of these areas, we identify new strategies for recentering people in environmental research to create not only effective but also just social-ecological projects, policy solutions, and infrastructure designs. Key questions include:

  • How can we build policies that are resilient to short-term political and economic pressures as well as changing environmental conditions?
  • What are the distributive, procedural, and recognitional justice implications of proposed social, political, economic, and engineered solutions to environmental change?
  • How do cultural norms, ethics, and moral behaviors shape and respond to changing environmental conditions?
  • What are the ways in which policy-makers and citizens imagine new futures and engage with scientific knowledge to create such futures?
  • How can we identify and maintain resilient resource management systems?
  • How can we build and support diverse environmental research teams?

In sum, how can we better understand how human beliefs, decision, and actions affect a wide range of environmental challenges and solutions across complex systems?

Building sustainable communities infographic

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Purdue’s Approach

Leveraging a multi-year cluster hire of seven new faculty members across seven departments, this initiative is promoting interdisciplinary and systems approaches to understanding and addressing these challenges.  The initiative is focused on three overlapping areas: informal institutions and decision making, critical infrastructure systems, and resilience in social, engineered, and ecological systems. Rather than addressing problems such as natural disaster preparedness and response, or climate change mitigation and adaptation, as primarily engineering or institutional design problems, this initiative investigates good design principles for both complex social and engineered systems, as well as their networked interactions.

Projects

UNSA NEXUS: Equitable Co-existence of Agriculture, Mining, and Regional Development in Arequipa: Realities, Barriers, and Opportunities

PI: Zhao Ma
Funding: Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa

 

Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure: Network Coordination Office

PI: David Johnson
Funding: NSF, CMMI

 

CRISP Type 2/Collaborative Research: Critical Transitions in the Resilience and Recovery of Interdependent Social and Physical Networks

PI: Satish Ukkusuri
Funding: NSF, CMMI

 

Identifying Sustainability Solutions through Global-Local-Global Analysis of a Coupled Water-Agriculture-Bioenergy System

PI: David Johnson
Funding: NSF, INFEWS

 

Collaborative Research: Cross-Scale Interactions & the Design of Adaptive Reservoir Operations

PI: David J. Yu
Funding: NSF, CMMI

Sociotechnical Systems to Enable Smart and Connected Energy-Aware Residential Communities

PI: Leigh Raymond
Funding: NSF, SCC-IRG

 

Affiliated Faculty

Jonathan Bauchet

Consumer Science
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Taylor Davis

Philosophy
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Jonathon Day

Hospitality and Tourism Management
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Andrew Flachs

Anthropology Department
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Tara Grillos

Political Science
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Erin Hennes

Psychology
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David Johnson

Industrial Engineering and Political Science
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Jennifer Johnson

Anthropology
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Daniel Kelly

Philosophy
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Zhao Ma

Forestry and Natural Resources
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Manjana Milkoreit

Political Science
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Roshanak Nateghi

Industrial Engineering and Environmental and Ecological Engineering
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Linda Prokopy

Forestry and Natural Resources
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P. Suresh Rao

Civil Engineering and Agronomy
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Leigh Raymond

Political Science
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Satish Ukkusuri

Civil Engineering
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Jae Hoon David Yu

Civil Engineering
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Laura Zanotti

Anthropology Department
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