Together the CUNY Human Ecodynamics Research Center (HERC) and the Princeton University Climate Change and History Research Initiative (CCHRI) lead a Thematic Hub devoted to Past Socio-Environmental Change and Resilience in support of the BRIDGES International Program Office.
CCHRI is an international interdisciplinary initiative inaugurated in 2015 with the aim of bringing together archaeologists, climate historians and specialists in the palaeoenvironmental sciences in an endeavour to transcend disciplinary boundaries and avoid mutual misunderstanding in respect of the use and application of data. Our focus is historical societal resilience and sustainability in the face of both environmental and climatic as well as anthropogenic challenges and hazards. Based at Princeton University, the core group consists of some 20 scholars in the fields of history and archaeology, the palaeo-environmental and palaeoclimate sciences, climate modelling and social anthropology, based at universities or research institutions.
Building on many years of successful interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary collaborations developed in the NABO network, the IHOPE program, and the Human Ecodynamics Research Center at CUNY, the CUNY-Princeton Hub works to foster community-based co-production of knowledge and the integration of local heritage and education initiatives in projects also producing data critical to understanding long term human-environment interactions. Full community engagement is vital to any successful response on the local level to threats from climate change and the impacts of globalization. Accordingly we work with multiple collaborators to improve our own capacity to engage successfully with communities not simply as hosts but as active and vital partners in knowledge co-production in the effort to achieve sustainable socieities. HERC, NABO and IHOPE projects in Iceland, Greenland, Scotland, the Faroe Isles, Scandinavia, the USA, Canada, and the Caribbean have long had a strong community component, and current NSF support for the project “Co-production of knowledge and the building of archaeological capacity in Greenland” (2019-23) continues this effort.
A lack of understanding of the complexity of past socio-environmental interactions has often led to misguided strategic thinking and failures in planning for resource management as well as longer-term development. In light of current concerns about environmental degradation, making policymakers more aware of the results of relevant historical research and cases of past resilience, collapse and adaptation socio-ecological systems, for example in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, can only be of benefit. Recent decades have seen an enormous growth in our knowledge of climate change. We can now begin to apply this data in a collective effort to understand complex social and cultural change at both the macro- and the micro-level. With CCHRI and HERC co-anchoring the CUNY-Princeton BRIDGES Hub, new insights can be achieved and lifted forward into debates on socio-ecological resilience, which are crucial to our understanding of current global environmental changes and relevant policymaking.