The objective of Resilience 2011 is to bring together representatives from a number of different communities that have not widely overlapped before. The conference is designed to strengthen such trans-disciplinary and cross-thematic ties by embracing the diversity of disciplines and skills required to address growing concerns about the long-term sustainability of the current global human-environmental system. Sustainability relates to understanding how change in human-environmental systems impacts human welfare and social and economic development. Resilience focuses on understanding how human-environmental systems self-organize and transform. Resilience and sustainability are clearly intimately intertwined and both resonate with practical efforts in policy, governance and stewardship. Conference events and activities seek to develop understanding of these relationships across multiple temporal and spatial scales and levels of organization to enhance the collective capacity for environmental governance and stewardship at all scales. The themes for Resilience 2011 attempt to organize ideas around key knowledge domains and action arenas in order to further develop this understanding.


The themes are listed below. We encourage those organizing sessions and panels to consider including perspectives on theory, empirical evidence and critical analysis; on education and training; and on communities of practice. In addition, we seek to feature work within each theme that includes perspectives developed from studies of issues and processes over the longue durée and that address robustness-vulnerability trade-offs that society faces given the uncertainty associated with global change.


  1. Adaptation, resilience, vulnerability, and coping with change in social-ecological systems

    Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize how people, groups, organizations, and systems experience vulnerabilities, build resilience, and adapt in the face of change. This theme seeks to integrate thinking across social and biophysical sciences – especially across resilience-based system-level conceptions of vulnerability, adaptation and geographical-science-based household-level conceptions of these issues.


  3. Thresholds and regime shifts in social-ecological systems

    Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize developing understanding of how social-ecological systems self-organize within regimes, endogenously generate thresholds that define different regimes and how systems undergo shifts between them. Of special interest is the idea of regimes and regime shifts in social systems – e.g. social traps.


  5. Knowledge, innovation, and social-ecological learning

    Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize developing understanding of the role that knowledge plays in the self-organization and dynamics of social-ecological systems as well as the dynamics of knowledge itself as generated by the processes of learning and innovation. Papers and panels will also address learning and innovation as endogenous processes generated by social-ecological dynamics.


  7. Governance, polycentricity, markets, and multilevel challenges

    Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize developing understanding of how institutions and governance structures influence the self-organization and dynamics of social-ecological systems. Of particular interest is the interaction of multiple, polycentric systems operating across multiple levels of organization and multiple temporal and spatial scales.


  9. Analyzing and framing resilient development, resilient resources and security

    Papers and Panels in this theme will emphasize resilience as it relates to management questions related to specific resource systems (fisheries, forests, rangelands, etc.), economic development, and human security and well-being. Topics may also include resilience and state security and the broadening and deepening of security to encompass new arenas such as the outcome of global financial crises, civil contingencies and human security. This theme is motivated by the fact that the term resilience is being used more widely in policy circles and policy debates to describe goals for government policy, yet the meaning may be at odds with resilience theories that emphasize change and transformation.


  11. Transformation in social-ecological systems

    Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize transformational change. When does further adaptation mean maladaptation? How can we identify when transformational change is necessary? What are the elements of transformability and the processes involved in transforming? How does it relate to the broader body of work on transitioning (e.g. the Transition Town movement in the UK and the DRIFT program in the Netherlands)?

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