CauSES – Approaches to causation in the social and natural sciences and their implications for theory building in sustainability science

Today’s global problems are complex. Disentangling their causes is difficult as they result from the interplay of social and ecological processes across multiple scales. A plurality of notions of causation exist in the natural and social sciences, however, their application to interdisciplinary fields such as sustainability science has created debate and confusion. The purpose of the CauSES project is to bring together causal thinking in the social and natural sciences to 1) clarify different notions, their relationships and compatibility, 2) assess disciplinary approaches in terms of their ability to capture the complex and social-ecological nature of the problems, and 3) develop integrated approaches to causal analysis for sustainability science.

CauSES is an interdisciplinary research environment that brings together philosophers, ecologists, institutional economists, social-ecological systems researchers, agent-based modellers and mathematicians from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, the Institute of Analytical Sociology at Linköping University, the Philosophy Department at University of Uppsala and the Department of Ecological Modelling at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig-Halle, Germany.