New research paradigm proposed to solve global challenges

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A group of scientists, including Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch scientist Jianguo “Jack” Liu, has stated in  new paper that the growing global challenges has rendered sharply segregated expertise obsolete. In response, they have proposed a new paradigm of research called systems integration to tackle the numerous global crises, like air pollution, biodiversity loss, climate change, food insecurity, and energy and water shortages, the planet now faces.

“The real world is integrated,” Liu, the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) at MSU, said. “Artificially breaking down the real world into separate pieces has caused many global problems. Solving these problems requires systems integration – holistic approaches to integrate various pieces of the real world at different organizational levels, across space and over time.”

Acknowledging that everything must be integrated is critical for scientific advances and effective policies, the authors say. So is the engagement between researchers and stakeholders. For example, Liu has partnered with environmental and social scientists to show how policies in China to curb human’s role in deforestation and panda habitat degradation were strengthened by enlisting nature reserve residents to receive subsidies to monitor the forests. The innovations were spurred by careful observation of the push-and-pull dynamics of managing a system to allow both people and the environment to thrive.

For the full story, please visit MSU Today.

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