National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center  (SESYNC)

Name Email Phone Room
Saran  Twombly (703) 292-8133   


The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) is an NSF-funded center in Annapolis, Maryland. The center is established through an award to the University of Maryland at College Park. It represents a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan; University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS); Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ (Germany);  Environment for Development Initiative (EfD) at the University of Gothenburg (Sweden); Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Gallaudet University; Washington State University at Vancouver; and Coppin State University.

SESYNC is dedicated to serving the synthesis research community and is grounded in the philosophy that to solve today's environmental problems, natural and social scientists must work with policy-makers to identify priorities and co-develop research questions. Addressing these questions requires a combination of fundamental, discovery-driven synthesis research and a commitment to clear communication of scientific insights to decision makers and stakeholders.  The Center plans to set up an online collaborative environment whose purpose is to foster community-wide suggestions, discussions, and development of ideas for the Center's future research, education, and outreach activities. The Center strives to engage the broad community to guide all of its activities.  It will also support the community in developing novel approaches for overcoming the epistemological, pedagogical, and institutional hurdles to conducting synthetic socio-environmental research. SESYNC is dedicated to creating synthetic, actionable research and scholarship related to the structure, functioning, and sustainability of socio-environmental systems.  In partnership with Resources for the Future, SESYNC will work with policy-makers to understand their scientific needs and motivate scholarship to meet those needs.   SESYNC will support structured policy programs including "Mission Meetings" where scientists and policy-makers co-identify relevant research needs and ways to ensure that the products of fundamental discovery are linked appropriately to productive interactions between social and environmental scientists and policy professionals at all levels.  Education and outreach research and activities will be embedded throughout the Center's programs to expand capacity in socio-environmental synthesis.  In its first year, SESYNC will launch a founding program focused on teaching synthesis methods and strategies for the analysis of complex information on the environment to diverse educational communities, with a focus on undergraduate education.