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Social Ecological Systems Training and Education Program (SESTEP)

Social Ecological Systems (SES) offers a framework for understanding the complex social and ecological interactions that affect and shape natural resource use and management. An SES training approach involves identifying, analyzing, and intervening in natural resource management issues from an integrated, multi-disciplinary lens encompassing the disciplines of the social and ecological sciences.

Recent mandates by the U.S. federal government call for increased integration of social and natural sciences among practitioners, scholars, and policy makers. While SES has been explored in theory, there has been little advancement towards the application of SES in practice. The Social Ecological Systems Training and Education Program (SESTEP) will help fill gap by using an adaptive process to provide SES training to professionals, and improve SES tools available for natural resource management by building on the inherent knowledge within the program participant group. 

SESTEP offers a mechanism to train managers, professionals, and agency personnel at all levels, so that they are better prepared to tackle the complex human and environmental challenges present in natural and built landscape.

SESTEP focuses on understanding how to identify discrete SES for the purposes of developing better management strategies, and understanding the connections and feedback dynamics between it’s different components. SES practice and thinking are important for:

  • predicting and adapting to environmental change (preparedness and resilience)
  • moving beyond simplistic cause and effect paradigms
  • avoiding unintended consequences
  • developing a new culture for team and trans-disciplinary science (changing the way that science is done and understood)
  • capacity building in science and decision-making
  • advancing improved “planet economics” – leveraging capabilities for more efficient use of global and local resources

Center for Resilient Rural Communities, CRC, provides guidance for enhancing the well-being of communities and landscapes in Idaho and the western United States, through co-produced knowledge built upon partnerships with communities, and local, state, and federal agencies. This includes the integration of place-based knowledge with social-ecological systems approaches for enhancing community resilience through the development of Community-based Observing Networks (CBONs).  

The Community-based Observing Network for Adaptation and Security in the Bering Sea has been running for eight years as a network of Alaskan and Russian Far East communities. 

The CRC has built a strong collaboration with the Idaho Rural Partnership (IRP) program through analysis of the outcomes from the IRP’s 26 community reviews from the last 16 years.

The CRC has recently joined the Greater Yellowstone Business Consortium to partner with municipalities, counties, and businesses in the Greater Yellowstone area to support, develop and provide a home for the Greater Yellowstone Framework. Ongoing community-based research has led to the development of adaptive capacity indices (ACI) and the Arctic Water Resources Vulnerability Index (AWRVI).

Center for Resilient Communities

Physical Address:
IRIC 209

Mailing Address:
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2461
Moscow, Idaho

Phone: 208-885-4409

Fax: 208-885-9428