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Population and the Environment: Analytical Demography and Applied Population Ethics

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Category: Application Area Application Area: Population & Environment

Date/Time: October 13, 2018 - October 16, 2018

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Organizers

  • Sir Partha Dasgupta (Univ. Cambridge)

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    Attendees/Instructors
    Students

    Agenda/Schedule
    Click each agenda item's title for more information.
    Monday, October 15, 2018
    8:30 am - 9:00 am Day 1 Continental Breakfast (outside SFI Noyce Conference Room)
    9:00 am - 9:20 am Introduction & foundation of population ethics - Paul Hooper ()
    9:20 am - 9:35 am Short-course reflection - Amy P Chen (SFI) Download Presentation
    9:35 am - 10:20 am Foundation of population ethics - population axiology & moral theory - Christopher Cowie (Durham Univ.)
    10:20 am - 10:30 am Day 1 AM Break 1
    10:30 am - 11:15 am Economic development and demographic choices - Paul Hooper () Download Presentation
    11:15 am - 11:35 am SFI welcome - David Krakauer (SFI)
    11:35 am - 11:45 am Day 1 AM Break 2
    11:45 am - 12:30 pm Household decisions and their consequences - fundamentals of the demographic transition - Mary Shenk (Pennsylvania State Univ.) Download Presentation
    12:30 pm - 1:55 pm Day 1 Lunch (outside SFI Noyce Conference Room)
    2:00 pm - 2:05 pm Group photo
    2:05 pm - 2:50 pm Household decisions and their consequences - rural livelihoods, migration & climate - Lori Hunter (UC Boulder) Download Presentation
    2:50 pm - 3:00 pm Day 1 PM Break 1
    3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Modeling complex populations - dynamics of age-structured populations - Simon Levin (Princeton) Download Presentation
    4:00 pm - 4:10 pm Day 1 PM Break 2
    4:10 pm - 4:55 pm Modeling complex populations - action of selection on fertility & mortality - Mike Price (SFI)
    Tuesday, October 16, 2018
    8:30 am - 9:00 am Day 2 Continental Breakfast (outside SFI Noyce Conference Room)
    9:00 am - 9:45 am Co-evolution of population and environment - perceiving climate change and its impacts on reproduction and migration - Caroline Bledsoe (Northwestern Univ.) Download Presentation
    9:45 am - 9:55 am Day 2 AM Break 1
    9:55 am - 10:40 am Modeling complex populations - statistical inference from demographic data - Paul Hooper () Download Presentation
    10:40 am - 10:50 am Day 2 AM Break 2
    10:50 am - 11:35 pm Household decisions and their consequences - fertility & family planning - Aisha Dasgupta (United Nations)
    11:35 am - 11:45 am Day 2 AM Break 3
    11:45 am - 12:30 pm Co-evolution of population and environment - ecological & metabolic dynamics - Chris Kempes (SFI)
    12:30 pm - 1:45 pm Day 2 Lunch (outside SFI Noyce Conference Room)
    1:45 pm - 2:30 pm Co-evolution of population and environment - environment, food supply & demography - Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.) Download Presentation
    2:30 pm - 2:40 pm Day 2 PM Break 1
    2:40 pm - 3:35 pm Co-evolution of population and environment - anthropogenic change & biodiversity - Andy Rominger (SFI) Download Presentation
    3:25 pm - 3:35 pm Day 2 PM Break 2
    3:35 pm - 4:30 pm Closing remarks - Sir Partha Dasgupta (Univ. Cambridge)
    4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Reflection & knowledge sharing - Amy P Chen (SFI)

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    Meeting Synopsis

    To advance science education in rigorous approaches to population and the environment, this event will bring together experts from diverse fields. In the first 2 days—the working group—the invited instructors will collaborate to synthesize knowledge in the area of analytical demography and applied population ethics, and develop a curriculum targeted at a multi-disciplinary graduate-level audience. In the second 2 days—the short course—the instructors will work together to teach the newly developed curriculum to a group of participating students and early career scientists.

    Additional Meeting Information

    The relationship between human populations and the environments that support them may be the most significant issue bearing on our descendants. Yet rigorous treatments of this relationship, and its implications for applied population ethics, are regrettably sparse.


    New quantitative methods and models have been developed in the fields of analytical demography, anthropology, economics, biology, and complexity science that can shed light on important dimensions of population-environment dynamics. These advances bring a number of new concepts that enrich classical models in demography and economics, including multi-agent models, heterogeneity, hidden variables, life history, development and aging, spatial dynamics, strategic games, social influence, network theory, cultural processes, and causal inference from sparse data.


    To advance science education in this area, this 4-day event will bring together experts from diverse fields. In the first 2 days—the working group—the invited instructors will collaborate to synthesize knowledge in this area, and develop a curriculum targeted at a multi-disciplinary graduate-level audience. In the second 2 days—the short course—the instructors will work together to teach the newly developed curriculum to a group of participating students and early career scientists.

    Abstracts by Presenters

    Sir Partha Dasgupta (Univ. Cambridge) - Closing remarks

    Reproductive choices have economic implications for the family. This lecture will present an overview of contemporary fertility rates in rich and poor nations and identify economic explanations for the enormous difference between them. The idea of a global population enjoying a comfortable living standard while not further damaging the biosphere will be sketched numerically.

    Andy Rominger (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - anthropogenic change & biodiversity

    Human activities are often seen as detrimental to biodiversity. We will explore the science and sociology behind this narrative. We will both delve into the math behind extrapolations of species diversity and loss, and illuminate the shortcomings of the false dichotomy between humans and nature. Predicting biodiversity loss in ecology and conservation biology has historically been viewed through the lens of direct population destruction, habitat loss, and climate change. Habitat area has plays a key role in biodiversity theories as area mediates population size and is affected by all forms of habitat destruction including climate change. Thus we will focus heavily on theories of how biodiversity responds to changes in area. Predictions of biodiversity loss have failed to consider biases scientists bring to such predictions. We will therefore explore how presumptions about species interactions and human-nature relationships, largely dating to the Victorian era, have limited insight into biodiversity dynamics and conservation.    

    Chris Kempes (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - ecological & metabolic dynamics

    While the dynamics of individual populations living in a single location can be hard to predict, it is worth noting that macroecological predictions often lend simple and reliable predictions at appropriate scales. These perspectives typically focus on the constraints imposed by energetics both across species of different size and across various environments. I will focus on two case studies that illustrate the importance of integrating energetic optimizations with local resources. First, I will show how energetic approaches to mammalian physiology are capable of predicting steady-state populations based on body size. Then I will show how broad-scale population biogeography in plants can be predicted from local resources combined with the energetics of plant metabolism.    

    Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - environment, food supply & demography

    Due to tight coupling between human population dynamics and their local environments, preindustrial societies—particularly ones on islands--are useful for studying population-environment interaction.  In Hawai’i, rapid human population growth and sophisticated social stratification took place before European contact, in the context of sometimes extreme environmental variability.  These phenomena define questions, inform the structure of quantitative models, and guide the development of further hypotheses regarding how environment and population interact. I describe how agroecological and environment-dependent demographic models can be developed and integrated to probe the environment-population dynamics of a dryland field system, and to investigate the consequences and possible causes of social complexity. Results suggest that dynamic incorporation of social change could be an important component of studying population-environment interactions.    

    Caroline Bledsoe (Northwestern Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - perceiving climate change and its impacts on reproduction and migration

    Among the biggest puzzles in studies of climate change is why so many people support policies and politicians that appear to undermine their own best interests.  These have been identified across the world, including in the US, where advocates for science in climate studies and action find themselves locked in battle with climate-change deniers.  While these things can be addressed under classic rubrics of rationality, questions of meaning, nature, and what we tend to take for granted are equally important.  Through what cultural frames – whether expressed through local, international, legal or scientific idioms – can we best grasp how people are responding to what we might see as dangerous climate change and the best solutions to it?  While easy answers to these questions are illusive, findings from analogous studies – child fosterage, Western contraceptive use, and migration from West Africa to Europe and the US – may be brought to bear to address some of the principles on which they seem to rest.

    Christopher Cowie (Durham Univ.) - Foundation of population ethics - population axiology & moral theory

    How should we compare states of affairs that differ in not only the identities and qualities of life of those who comprise them, but also in their populations? This is the central challenge for moral philosophers working on population and future generations. I introduce the key ideas and arguments. I focus on the ‘repugnant conclusion’: the view that large populations of people with relatively low qualities of life may be better than small populations with relatively higher quality of life. I explore some of the arguments for and against this view and sketch the range of positions that those who wish to avoid it have adopted.    

    Aisha Dasgupta (United Nations) - Household decisions and their consequences - fertility & family planning

    The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development reaffirmed the language of rights in the sphere of family planning and reproductive health. But, to insist that the rights of individuals and couples to decide freely the number of children they produce trump all competing interests, is to minimise the rights of all those (especially future people) who suffer from the environmental externalities that accompany additions to the population. More women today than ever before are using modern methods of contraception, but there still remain over 200 million women with an unmet need. The global indicators used to monitor progress in family planning have rights at the heart of them. But the survey responses used to estimate the indicators are influenced by socially embedded preferences. It has been well documented that family planning services brings many benefits to those who use them. By focusing on externalities, we see that they bring benefits to others as well. Those additional benefits should be included in the design of social policies.

    Mary Shenk (Pennsylvania State Univ.) - Household decisions and their consequences - fundamentals of the demographic transition

    In this lecture/discussion we will define and discuss four primary causal models for the demographic transition and especially the remarkable changes in fertility that have accompanied it, aiming to understand how the transition to industrialization and associated changes in economic systems, technology, culture, and the marriage market have motivated people around the world to reduce their fertility. We will discuss research comparing causal models, examining both the contrasts and synergies between them. We will also briefly discuss the remaining gaps in our knowledge of the demographic transition and fertility decision-making.    

    Lori Hunter (UC Boulder) - Household decisions and their consequences - rural livelihoods, migration & climate

    Proximate natural resources are central to rural household economies in many regions of the Global South. In rural South Africa, for example, gathered reeds are used for market-bound mats or rugs, edible herbs are collected for evening meals and fuel wood is a critical energy source. Yet changing rainfall and temperature regimes are altering local environments, thereby challenging natural-resourced based livelihoods in many areas. One adaptation to such environmental challenges is migration as households either relocate entirely or send a member elsewhere in an effort to diversity income sources. The use of migration as a livelihood adaptation has been documented in a wide variety of contexts ranging from Indonesia to Ecuador, from South Africa to Mexico and this presentation reviews that scholarship. We also review several theoretical perspectives often brought to bear as well as common methodological approaches and critiques. A final examination of research and policy needs structures a conversation about next steps.    

    Mike Price (SFI) - Modeling complex populations - action of selection on fertility & mortality

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    Simon Levin (Princeton) - Modeling complex populations - dynamics of age-structured populations

    This lecture will begin from the classical roots of life tables and age structured populations, develop the general principle of stable age distribution, and close with a brief discussion of population momentum when parameters shift (as due to the implementation or relaxation of the one-child rule in China). There will brief mention of density dependence of birth rates, a concept of primary relevance for non-human population.

    Paul Hooper () - Modeling complex populations - statistical inference from demographic data

    Summary statistics such as the mortality rate, birth rate, or Total Fertility Rate can be useful for understanding some basic characteristics of a population. Often, however, we’re interested in having a more detailed understanding of how demographic events—fertility, mortality, or morbidity—relate to individual characteristics or environmental conditions. One may want to ask questions such as: Does education predict fertility, controlling for wealth? Does infant mortality vary with proximity to clean water, accounting for household-level differences? Does the interval between births depend on a parent’s age, economic strategy, or social network? This session will introduce a number of statistical models that are useful for answering these kinds of questions. We will discuss generalized regression models (customizable to model yes/no outcomes, count data, or continuous variables) as well as survival analysis (also called event history or duration analysis). These models allow us to estimate demographic rates as a function of multiple predictor variables, control for confounding variables, and take into account individual- or group-level heterogeneity.

    Amy P Chen (SFI) - Short-course reflection

    To preserve a record of this short-course, I'd like to ask everyone to write a short reflection on the following:

    Summarize the most useful thing you learned in this short-course.

    How you are planning on using the knowledge you gained from this short-course in your own work?

    Interesting conversation!

    References/resources you’d like to share

    Post-meeting Summary by Organizer

    Coming soon

    Additional Post-meeting Summary by Organizer


    Post-meeting Reflection by Presenter

    Paul Hooper () - Modeling complex populations - statistical inference from demographic data Link to the source page

    It's clear that an extended version of this course should include treatment of inequality (and more generally the distribution of the benefits and costs of environmental impacts within societies) and conflict between and within states. The #1 highlight is of course the group of people assembled here.

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    Caroline Bledsoe (Northwestern Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - perceiving climate change and its impacts on reproduction and migration Link to the source page

    With climate change, we appear to be entering into an era of partial and flawed awareness, on the parts of scholars as well as the public, of changes in natural forces bigger than we knew existed. Sociologist Ulrich Beck (2015) captures the dilemma this represents: "The idea that we are masters of the universe has totally collapsed and has turned into its opposite." How can we grasp the scale and character of these changes both in the environment and in the social world in categories we do not yet have, and at scales that are beyond our imagination?

    Through what cultural frames – whether expressed through local, international, legal or scientific idioms – can we best grasp how people are responding to what we might see as dangerous climate change and the best solutions to it?  While easy answers to these questions are illusive, findings from analogous studies – child fosterage, Western contraceptive use, and migration from West Africa to Europe and the US – may be brought to bear to address some of the principles on which they seem to rest.

    Among the biggest puzzles in debates about climate change is why so many people support policies and politicians that appear to undermine their own best interests.  These have been identified across the world, including in the US, where advocates for science in climate studies and action find themselves locked in battle with climate-change deniers.  While these things can be addressed under classic rubrics of rationality, questions of meaning, nature, and what we tend to take for granted are equally important.

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    Christopher Cowie (Durham Univ.) - Foundation of population ethics - population axiology & moral theory Link to the source page

    Highlights: People genuinely seeming to care about philosophy.

    Open questions that came up: questions about the nature of duties to merely potential people and the application of my approach to personal choices as well as public policy choices.

    How your perspective changed: I wouldn't say my perspective changed. But I now think I was wrong to assimilate personal choices as well as public policy choices in my approach.

    Impact on your own work: A bit more clarity on the above, as well as on the sense of should used to frame my questions (= should of morality not of rationality).

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    Aisha Dasgupta (United Nations) - Household decisions and their consequences - fertility & family planning Link to the source page

    Loved learning how demographers, philosophers, anthropologists, economists, ecologists, scientists... approach the subject, and the breadth of work taking place from these different fields.

    I was struck by the need to be able to produce decent estimates of the return on investment of family planning.

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    Lori Hunter (UC Boulder) - Household decisions and their consequences - rural livelihoods, migration & climate Link to the source page

    The meeting has really emphasized the vast potential (and need) for interdisciplinary collaboration in the arena of population and environment. I have long been engaged with the social demographic research community focused on environmental demography, but we have not sufficiently bridged to those with expertise in anthropological or analytical demography nor with those in population ethics.

    An important open question for me is "How do we make our research more policy relevant?" With the recent imperative from the IPCC, the research community must come together to generate impactful, meaningful insight that can help in identifying and prioritizing policy and programmatic response -- now.

    On the prospective of shifting my own perspective, I don't know that my perspective has changed, but I certainly have greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the myriad ways in which scholars are thinking about population issues, including as related to philosophical questions around population ethics.

    I can imagine that this workshop pushes me to more centrally engage anthropological demographers within my own work. Dr. Scott Ortman is an affiliate of the University of Colorado Population Center, for which I'm Director, and I can now better see the potential to consider commonalities and distinctions in population-environment linkages across long periods of time. Key, though, is I would aim to engage this work in ways that would yield impactful findings as related to our contemporary demographic and climate challenges.

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    Chris Kempes (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - ecological & metabolic dynamics Link to the source page

    Some of the highlights of the meeting for me were:

    Chris Cowie's detailed presentation of the consequences of various axiomatic assumptions about how to make decisions affecting entire populations in terms of the two dimensions of welfare and population size. This type of thinking is nice in that it forces people to explicitly express their preference regarding different types of outcomes and understand the tradeoffs therein. The discussion that followed between Simon Levin, Chris Cowie, and Partha Dasgupta regarding the ultimate moral responsibility to unborn children was fascinating, and touched on some of the deepest moral philosophy questions. Namely tradeoffs between responsibility to self, society, existing children, and potential children where the decision to have an unborn child is connected to which of these categories of welfare one is weighting most strongly, and what one expects the future condition for the child, self, and society to be.

    Caroline Bledsoe's discussion of the variety of husband perspectives on contraception across multiple wives was fascinating, highlighting the stronger connection to individual relationships rather than blanket opinions. For example, if a husband viewed contraception as a means for an individual wife to recover from child birth and delay the next birth lead generally to a receptive perspective of contraceptive use. This work connected strongly to Aisha Dasgupta's plot of a negative correlation between fertility and contraceptive prevalence across countries, where outliers in fertility at the same contraceptive use may indicate detailed cultural processes.

    Mary Shenk's overview of the demographic transition and contrasting of humans with other primates was also very useful for understanding the broad-scale history of human populations.

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    Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - environment, food supply & demography Link to the source page

    Highlights: Very many of the issues with which I've wrestled in my own thinking--from big-picture and philosophical questions to methodological ones at various levels of detail--are being studied and advanced by others at this meeting. There have been a few ways of measuring things, or of thinking about them at all, which were completely new and cool to me. And of course several questions and topics about which I personally haven't thought much, but are clearly important to population and environment

    Impact on my own research: I've come to a renewed awareness of the value and difficulty of interdisciplinary integration. For example, there are many places in my research where social organization plays some role in the dynamics of food supply and population change, and sharing this here has reminded me of how much can be important and how much there is to find out.

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    Simon Levin (Princeton) - Modeling complex populations - dynamics of age-structured populations Link to the source page

    The interrelated topics of population growth and resource depletion are central to sustainability, and ideal topics for SFI

    Potential for greater integration of conceptual foundations and applications is high; these are prototypical complex adaptive systems, and problems of the Commons are at the core as regards resource use, disease management, etc.

    Would like to see even more-post-meeting integration of these topics.

    I may work more on migration.

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    Andy Rominger (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - anthropogenic change & biodiversity Link to the source page

    This has been a great meeting with many good ideas and excellent people. I was left with several thoughts: populations in wealthier countries have lower fertility: why? This was from Mary's talk and is really fascinating. In particular I wonder how economic pressures versus cultural pressures drive this. In my very naive view I can mostly think of cultural reasons--cultural pressures that empower women and change symbols of status away from family size for example; and the economic pressures would seem to work in the opposite direction: it should be economically easier to have more children in wealthy countries, connecting to observations Partha presented earlier. And yet, Mary's work points to economic drivers being more statistically supported--I'll be excited to engage with her findings more. Also, again born of my ignorance on the subject, I wondered when we speak of morality around populations, how do we avoid arguments that facilitate (while not explicitly being) eugenic views on who should reproduce and who should not? If evolution drives populations to higher fitness can fitness maximization be a moral construct?

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    Mary Shenk (Pennsylvania State Univ.) - Household decisions and their consequences - fundamentals of the demographic transition Link to the source page

    This has been a very productive meeting for me. At first I thought "I don't do environmental work, so what do I have to contribute to this course?" But I was interested in the topic so I decided to participate, and it turns out that there are many interesting intersections between my work and that of other participants who are more directly focused on the environment. I have also found an environmental perspective embedded in my own work that I have been able to make more explicit as part of my presentation for this workshop. In terms of professional outcomes, I have already developed one new potential collaboration relevant to human population and demographic transitions in the past and an idea for a future workshop.

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    Post-meeting Reflection by Non-presenting Attendees

    Aman Borkar (Tata Inst. of Social Sciences) Link to the source page

    I have learnt the linkages between various themes presented from extinction to population demographics to family planning and conservation. Although most of the data presented has limited and very specific variables but the presentation of such variables and correlation between the variable is non-conventional. However, much of the focus of explanation of such linkages is quantitative rather than qualitative. Thus, there is huge scope of finding more meaning to the data and substantiating the quantitative findings with the qualitative ones.

    In this two-day seminar, I have identified around 18 new interdisciplinary topics to research on. In my coming teaching and field sessions at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Mumbai-India), I will be working on these 18 topics with my Master's Students

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    Eva Nurwita (Univ. New Mexico) Link to the source page

    I am very grateful that I got a chance to attend this very great meetings and met with great people from a very diverse background, and diverse field of knowledge. I am an economics graduate student, whom before came to this meeting has a very limited knowledge on how broad is the population-climate problem. As I am exposed to the knowledge I received from this very meeting, I now have a sense of more factors that made my mind opened quite larger than before. I now understand that as some more people out there debating on which one to do first from which part of the world and what scientific method to be used, the more effective way to do is to tackle population-climate problem in collaborative scientific methodology, the way this meeting has been set up since the very beginning.

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    Iza Romanowska (Barcelona Supercomputing Center) Link to the source page

    Many thanks for the most wonderful opportunity to learn from and engage with an incredible group of researchers. It would be preposterous to limit the list of things I've learnt to one. C. Cowie's presentation on population axiology has opened up an area of inquiry that I was not even aware existed. M. Shenk's paper was probably the clearest introduction to demography I could wish for, similarly to L. Hunter's talk on migration. All the talks on mathematical underpinnings of some of the questions raised (and especially S. Levin's) were pitched at such a low level that even non-math folks like me could follow (THANK YOU!) which is much appreciated. I could go on but shifting to the 'how are you planning on using what you've learnt?' question. The socio-natural model presented by C. Lee has a good potential for being an absolute game changer for my research. It really opened up new avenue for linking environmental variables to demography that I was not aware of previously. Stay tuned!

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    Jake Organ (University of New Mexico) Link to the source page

    I'm still (Thursday) trying to internalize and make sense of the intense intellectual experience that was my attendance at the Population and Environment conference. Firstly, the Institute itself was an amazing discovery, that such places exist beyond the realm of Sci-fi was eye-opening; and the atmosphere in the conference and the wider Institute really encouraged a level of deep thinking that often goes on in private but is rarely talked about in such an open and relaxed way. I loved the short, sharp shock lecture style; i.e. all these relatively brief but penetrating talks from experts in a wide variety of fields. I woke up around 3.30am on Tuesday grappling with two thoughts that wouldn't go away; Mary Shenk's concept of the Homo Sapien discovery of 'Co-operative breeding' and the implications of that especially as that process seems to be reversing in the Western World, and a couple of sentences by Simon Levin on the differences between optimization and game theory and which models the actual process more effectively. Thankfully, I got a chance to have a great talk with Mary in which she helped me think about the implications of globalization and development, especially as they relate to the areas of Sub-Saharan Africa that I study. Also, Simon gave me some of his time to discuss the prevalence of optimization, especially in the field of economics and pointed me to some excellent papers to help to develop my thoughts.

    So much more I could say: both Mary and Caroline Bledsoe gave me a deeper insight into anthropological methods, Lori Hunter's talk touched directly on a lot of my research and though I'm not a biologist, there were many parts of Caroline Lee's, Chris Kempes's and Andy Rominger's talks that really spoke into my research. Hearing Sir Partha Dasgupta at the end was a great inspiration, and aided many of us economists because he pointed to ways that we could integrate the wider research into our own work. I could write more, but I'll end with thanks to Paul, Amy, Carla and David for the warmth of the welcome, the creation of such a unique atmosphere and the constant supply of food and coffee.

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    Kaarel Sikk (University of Luxembourg) Link to the source page

    As I am working with conceptualizing the formation of human settlement patterns I came searching for the state of art knowledge on socio-ecological processes influencing their formation. Santa Fe and the Institute greeted me with even lot more than expected starting from eclectic societies of art and science in the city to the bold focus on "the most important" backed by art and mathematics in the SFI.

    The course on population and environment offered a wide range of bits and pieces related to demographic dynamics, population size, migration, economy and spatial processes all essentially connected to my own study. All those bits and pieces created a confident methodological backgrond that significantly advances my work. Several ideas in the talks and personal exchange with other participants were directly related to my work. The themes of demographic transitions, migrations, ecosystem services gave me a lot of tought food. More philosophical questions asked in population axiology presented paradoxes in maximization in ranking which in addition to ethical inquiry also makes you think on the level of abstraction of models.

    Another topic I was secretly pursuing was the projection of long term processes to the future. As my own work is based on archaeological data from the past, envisioning it towards to the future creates a powerful motivator. And I did observe several interesting trends. Although in most parts we were presented analytical aggregate models the reasoning and understanding behind those macro-level processes involves choice. So a somewhat emotional takeaway from the course for me was - if we want to project from the past to the future, we need to conceptualize our models to the level of choice, and even further to the level of agency (and hopefully use agent-based models on the go).

    I really thank SFI, all the organizers and participants for the great opportunity.

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    Kailey Martinez (NM State Univ.) Link to the source page

    I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend this short course and grateful for the instructors that took the time to attend and teach us. Obtaining my undergraduate degrees in both Wildlife Ecology & Management and Anthropology provided me the chance to learn about two subjects that have always been deeply interesting to me. Five seasons of archaeological field experience, starting right after my freshman year, provided me practical skills to partner with what I was learning in the classroom. Through undergraduate courses and now my graduate program though, I have found that the kind of interdisciplinary thinking I naturally lean towards is not always fostered in a traditional academic setting, which is why I was so excited to see that it was the main focus throughout the course. 

    The topics concerning fertility and human population were very interesting, as I had little knowledge in the form of relating these concerns to deeper global issues, besides the basics of an increased population, and the solutions that could be found through more critical understanding and application. The topics presented by Chris Kempes, Caroline Bledsoe, Lori Hunter, and Andy Rominger were most directly related to my interests and helped me to better understand how I could apply my variable knowledge, as well as what I learn in the future, to globally relevant issues that I feel compelled to work with, such as climate change and conservation/sustainability. Being able to talk with the other students was also extremely interesting. As one of the few students at the Masters level, hearing about research being conducted by all of the doctoral students and professionals, was inspiring. The two thought provoking days we were able to be a part of have impacted me greatly and will provide me with greater ideas to include in my thesis as well as hopefully help me explore and decide upon a path for me to pursue in my future doctoral studies.  

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    Kaitlyn Davis (UC Boulder) Link to the source page

    Most useful thing learned in course:

    For me, the most useful about this course was seeing more examples of and talking through the process of moving from 1) establishing research questions to 2) identifying the key variables to 3) developing the equations to relate the variables to each other to 4) developing models of how the systems work. For me, steps 3 and 4 have always been the most difficult and are currently the steps I am thinking through for my dissertation. Getting to talk with other researchers about this process and seeing how they developed equations and models to capture and depict their topics of interest has helped me make some inroads to get started on this process in my own research.

    Some additional useful things learned in the course:

    -The importance of always being aware of and periodically re-assessing/re-identifying the interplay between 1) models/abstractions of data patterns and 2) on the ground interviews and data collection that reveal the key variables/driving factors and logics/frameworks of the subjects that contribute to the observed data patterns (such as in Caroline Bledsoe’s . Without this ground-truthing and finding out what variables actually matter for the study organisms and how they conceptualize them, our models will be flawed due to either missing key variables or not being able to actually explain the implications of the patterns they show.

    -The importance of considering time lengths/durations in a process. For example, as we saw in Mary Shenk’s lecture on demographic transitions, the same pattern (e.g. declining fertility rate), but over different time scales (e.g. a longer time in one area than another), can have significantly different impacts (e.g. amount of population in each of the two different areas). Another example from this workshop was thinking about what is the temporal resolution of our data and how this aligns with the temporal resolution of the variable of interest (such as Lori Hunter discussed in terms of census data and temporary migrations).

    -What models to use for particular demographic problems (and how to accommodate variation and additional parameters)

    Applications for my dissertation research:

    As I’m building models and thinking of variables to consider for my dissertation, which deals with agricultural adaptations in light of socioeconomic changes in the indigenous American Southwest, this workshop will be extremely helpful (particularly Chris Kempes’s work on the land/resources needed to sustain a given population and Charlotte Lee’s model integrating environment, population, and society).

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    Mohammad Ali (Univ. New Mexico) Link to the source page

    This unique program allows researchers to learn by making conceptual connections between ideas and facts that are spread across different disciplines. I wanted to attend this program to see how researchers simultaneously apply the knowledge gained in one discipline to another in order to enhance their learning experience. The two days of learning during the course gave me an opportunity to look at the problems that I am interested in from a different lens than what Economics offers. The experience gained from this course made me realize that studying topics by themes is an excellent way to integrate ideas, create engaging learning experiences and producing more holistic research.

    However, one of the biggest challenges of achieving an interdisciplinary environment is facilitating collaboration between departments and educators. That is where the Santa Fe Institute has and is doing a wonderful job of bringing together researchers from different areas of research and providing them opportunities to explore research questions without limiting their boundaries of curiosity. Personally, I feel that this course will help me incorporate the relationship of environment, demographics and social networks to my current research on human capital formation and early childhood development.

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    Nadia Farooq (Pakistan Inst. Development Economics) Link to the source page

    It was a nicely designed course. It has developed a new sense of getting solutions with the help of complex modelling.

    I am thinking to evolve a new model with the mixture of burning issue of climate change and increasing population growth into the macroeconomic model for Pakistan. I am sure that it’ll be unique with the addition of complexity.

    Dr. Shenka’s presentation was very interesting, either as a citizen of South Asia, the outcomes were not unfamiliar to me but her way of presentation was amazing and easily understandable.

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    Peter Roolf (Portland State Univ.) Link to the source page

    The most useful part of this short course for me was learning the high level perspectives of experts outside of my field. As a systems science PhD student I am interested in studying social-ecological systems and how we as a society are going to adapt to a changing climate, resource depletion, population growth, energy transitions, etc. My personal interest is in implementing circular economies at the community level (neighborhoods, towns, etc) and so I found Chris Kempes' "Ecological & Metabolic Population Constraints" and Charlotte Lee's "Environment, Food Supply, & Demography" presentations particularly relevant to my work, and I am interested in utilizing some of their findings into the development of agent based models of local economies. Additionally, I have not had significant exposure to demographics, fertility, and migration in recent memory, and so I now have plenty of additional information to consider when designing models or community interventions. And lastly, the "Anthropogenic Change & Biodiversity" talk by Andy Rominger and the closing thoughts by Partha Dasgupta reinforced my understanding of the larger problems at hand and provide the larger context for the smaller investigations and projects that I am involved in.

    Insofar as how I plan to use this knowledge, over the past several years I have formed the equivalent of what physicians would call a "general impression" of the great changes that are taking place. The content of this course has largely validated my differential diagnosis and has enriched my understanding by providing details backed up by rigorous research. As I move forward with my academic and professional work I will undoubtedly refer to my lecture notes and dig deeper into the research papers cited. And, although I will not go into detail in regards to a number of interesting conversations during the course, suffice it to say I am delighted to now be a part of this intellectual network and I plan to connect with several students and faculty for further conversation and collaborations.

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    Rajan Bishwakarma (University of New Mexico) Link to the source page

    I think talks/lectures selection reflected the overall objective of the course. From an economists's viewpoints, most lectures were thought provoking and I thoroughly enjoyed. Personally, not only that the lectures helped me to improve my dissertation, I am grateful to some of the organizer for their help.

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    Usama Bilal (Drexel Univ.) Link to the source page

    Most useful thing I've learned: The idea of outlining several causal models and the predictions that they can make about a certain phenomenon of interest, to then test which one fits the data better. This type of deductive reasoning is, I'd say, underused in my field. I'd like to think again about the causal models for fertility and to review potential causal models for epidemiologic transitions. However, at the same time, the conclusion from the lecture (and the paper) on these causal models for fertility ended up being about the importance of considering all models simultaneously, or, even better, considering how they have a differential effect over time. That is, some of the models may have an importance in the beginning of the fertility decline while some others may be more important in the later stages. I think we need to leverage the idea of feedback loops and endogeneity in complex systems to better accommodate the presence of multiple causal models. 

    Planning to use knowledge: I plan to use the framework on migration determinants, especially at the macro level, and to leverage some of the data sources that were mentioned in the migration lecture. In particular, I'd like to see the connections between internal migration (rural to urban) in the determination of urban health outcomes. I'd also like to incorporate some of the lessons about causal models, but applying them to epidemioloic transitions.

    Interesting conversation:

    • On the necessity to consider endogeneity in the causes of population dynamics. X affects Y than in turn affects X again.
    • On the necessity to consider inequalities and distributional effects
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    Zachary Cooper (UC Boulder) Link to the source page

    First and foremost, I would like to thank the Santa Fe Institute for this incredible opportunity! This experience was intense and intellectually stimulating in many different ways. As an archaeologist, I found Dr. Lee's presentation on agroecological and environmental-dependent demographic models to be fascinating, and I certainly can see the relevancy of such models in generating better prehistoric population estimates. In addition, I found Dr. Hooper's presentation on statistical model selection to be very useful. Last, but certainly not least, I truly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with my fellow attendees. There is an incredible amount of value in simply chatting with so many interesting and intelligent people in one place. In my opinion, the synergies that derive from the aggregation of so many great minds in one location is one of the many benefits of a place like SFI. I hope to have the opportunity to return to SFI in the near future.

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    Reference Materials by Presenting Attendees

    Paul Hooper () - Modeling complex populations - statistical inference from demographic data

    The optional reading Kaplan, Hooper, Stieglitz & Gurven (2015) The Causal Relationship between Fertility and Infant Mortality: Prospective analyses of a population in transition provides worked examples of analyzing fertility data (using Cox proportional hazards to model time to next birth) and infant mortality data (using logistic regression).

    Access the Emory CASAS Cancer Survival Analysis Suite here: http://bbisr.shinyapps.winship.emory.edu/CASAS/

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Mortality experience of Tsimane Amerindians of Bolivia: Regional variation and temporal trends Michael Gurven, Hillard Kaplan, Alfredo Zelada Supa American Journal of Human Biology 2007 138 5
    The Causal Relationship between Fertility and Infant Mortality: Prospective analyses of a population in transition Hillard Kaplan, Paul L. Hooper, Jonathan Stieglitz, Michael Gurven Population in the Human Sciences: Concepts, Models, Evidence 2015 7 23
    Multilevel Analysis 0 4
    On mixed-effect Cox models, sparse matrices, and modeling data from large pedigrees 0 4
    Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models 0 6

    Caroline Bledsoe (Northwestern Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - perceiving climate change and its impacts on reproduction and migration

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Emancipatory catastrophism: What does it mean to climate change and risk society? Ulrich Beck Current Sociology 2015 69 0
    Reproductive Mishaps and Western Contraception: An African Challenge to Fertility Theory 0 5
    Chesapeake requiem earl swift chesapeake requiem 0 7

    Christopher Cowie (Durham Univ.) - Foundation of population ethics - population axiology & moral theory

    Hilary Greaves. Population Axiology. Philosophy Compass. (2017). A nice summary of some of the core issues in population axiology.

    Mike Huemer. In Defense of Repugnance. Mind (2007). A more in-depth discussion of one of the controversial views in population axiology.

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    In defence of repugnance Michael Huemer Mind 2008 27 4
    Population axiology Hilary Greaves Philosophy Compass 2017 6 7

    Aisha Dasgupta (United Nations) - Household decisions and their consequences - fertility & family planning

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Socially Embedded Preferences, Environmental Externalities, and Reproductive Rights Aisha Dasgupta, Partha Dasgupta Population and Development Review 2017 4 11

    Lori Hunter (UC Boulder) - Household decisions and their consequences - rural livelihoods, migration & climate

    Hunter, Luna and Norton (2015) offers a review of the sociological research on migration-environment linkages.

    Riosmena, Nawrotzki and Hunter (2018) provides a recent example using census data of migration-environment research.

    Black et al. (2011) provides an often-used framework for considering migration-environment linkages.

    The collection of papers by Nawrotzki et al. offer a variety of examinations focus on Mexico-US migration as relate to climatic factors.

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    The effect of environmental change on human migration Richard Black, W. Neil Adger, Nigel W. Arnell, Stefan Dercon, Andrew Geddes, David Thomas Global Environmental Change 2011 301 17
    Rural livelihoods and access to natural capital: Differences between migrants and non-migrants in Madagascar Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Lori M. Hunter, Thomas W. Dickinson Demographic Research 2012 18 4
    International Climate Migration: Evidence for the Climate Inhibitor Mechanism and the Agricultural Pathway Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Maryia Bakhtsiyarava Population, Space and Place 2017 15 4
    Climate shocks and the timing of migration from Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Jack DeWaard Population and Environment 2016 13 5
    Amplification or suppression: Social networks and the climate change-migration association in rural Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Fernando Riosmena, Lori M. Hunter, Daniel M. Runfola Global Environmental Change 2015 12 5
    Climate shocks and rural-urban migration in Mexico: exploring nonlinearities and thresholds Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Jack DeWaard, Maryia Bakhtsiyarava, Jasmine Trang Ha Climatic Change 2017 7 10
    Domestic and International Climate Migration from Rural Mexico Raphael J. Nawrotzki, Daniel M. Runfola, Lori M. Hunter, Fernando Riosmena Human Ecology 2016 1 6
    Variation by geographic scale in the migration-environment asociation: Evidence from rural South Africa 0 6
    Environmental Dimensions of Migration 0 5

    Chris Kempes (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - ecological & metabolic dynamics

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Predicting maximum tree heights and other traits from allometric scaling and resource limitations Christopher P. Kempes, Geoffrey B. West, Kelly Crowell, Michelle Girvan PLoS ONE 2011 47 8

    Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.) - Co-evolution of population and environment - environment, food supply & demography

    - Recommended for this course (1 & 2):

    1) Lee, CT, and S Tuljapurkar. 2011. Quantitative, dynamic models to integrate environment, population, and society. Pages 111-133 in Kirch, PV, ed. Roots of Conflict: Soils, Agriculture, and Sociopolitical Complexity in Ancient Hawai'i. School of Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    This book chapter summarizes the effort to integrate models for the environment and environment-dependent demography that is the focus of my lecture during the course. It's intended as an introduction to and overview of the dynamic modeling approach--details are there for folks who are interested, but not necessary.

    2) Lee, CT, S Tuljapurkar, and P Vitousek. 2006. Risky business: spatial and temporal variation in preindustrial dryland agriculture. Human Ecology 34 (6): 739-763

    This paper goes into more detail on the environmental modeling and is optional for that reason, but its introduction does a bit better job than the book chapter of setting up the context and larger questions framing the work.

    - Supplementary readings for more detail on other parts of the project (3 - 6):

    3) Lee and Tuljapurkar 2008 details food-dependent demographic dynamics when populations are in a phase of long-term exponential growth.

    4) Puleston and Tuljpurkar 2008 give details of how demography changes when total land area begins to limit population growth.

    5) Lee et al. 2009 examine both growing and space-limited populations with environmental variability.

    6) Ladefoged et al. 2008 explains the application of the coupled model to questions about social organization.

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Population and prehistory I: Food-dependent population growth in constant environments Charlotte T. Lee, Shripad Tuljapurkar Theoretical Population Biology 2008 39 7
    Modeling life expectancy and surplus production of dynamic pre-contact territories in leeward Kohala, Hawai'i Thegn N. Ladefoged, Charlotte T. Lee, Michael W. Graves Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2008 30 0
    Risky business: Temporal and spatial variation in preindustrial dryland agriculture Charlotte T. Lee, Shripad Tuljapurkar, Peter M. Vitousek Human Ecology 2006 29 3
    Population and prehistory III: Food-dependent demography in variable environments Charlotte T. Lee, Cedric O. Puleston, Shripad Tuljapurkar Theoretical Population Biology 2009 25 3
    Quantitative, dynamic models to integrate environment, population, and society Charlotte T Lee Roots of Conflict: Soils, Agriculture, and Sociopolitical Complexity in Ancient Hawai'i (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series) 2011 0 5
    Population and prehistory II: Space-limited human populations in constant environments. Puleston, C., Tuljapurkar, S. Theoretical Population Biology 2008 0 6

    Simon Levin (Princeton) - Modeling complex populations - dynamics of age-structured populations

    Ellner and Rees is overview of age-structured models

    Espenshade papers introduce momentum

    Arrow and Levin introduce notion of intergenerational transfer of resources

    Keyfitz and Keyfitz introduce continuous-time models

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    The McKendrick partial differential equation and its uses in epidemiology and population study B. L. Keyfitz, N. Keyfitz Mathematical and Computer Modelling 1997 64 10
    Population momentum across the demographic transition Laura Blue, Thomas J. Espenshade Population and Development Review 2011 18 4
    On Nonstable and Stable Population Momentum Thomas J. Espenshade, Analia S. Olgiati, Simon A. Levin Demography 2011 4 10
    Intergenerational resource transfers with random offspring numbers 0 3
    Age-structured and stage-structured population dynamics 0 10

    Mike Price (SFI) - Modeling complex populations - action of selection on fertility & mortality

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Reproductive value, the stable stage distribution, and the sensitivity of the population growth rate to changes in vital rates Hal Caswell Demographic Research 2010 19 6

    Andy Rominger (SFI) - Co-evolution of population and environment - anthropogenic change & biodiversity

    Keil et al. (2015) Nature Communications: derives the best math for calculating species loss under habitat loss.

    Mendenhall et al. (2014) Nature: shows how human use of landscapes does not render them devoid of biodiversity and the consequences there of for conservation.

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Predicting biodiversity change and averting collapse in agricultural landscapes Chase D. Mendenhall, Daniel S. Karp, Christoph F.J. Meyer, Elizabeth A. Hadly, Gretchen C. Daily Nature 2014 154 18
    On the decline of biodiversity due to area loss Petr Keil, David Storch, Walter Jetz Nature Communications 2015 24 5

    Mary Shenk (Pennsylvania State Univ.) - Household decisions and their consequences - fundamentals of the demographic transition

    Colleran & Mace 2015 gives an excellent example from rural Poland which examines the relative effect of individual and group level variables on fertility outcomes.

    Gurven & Kaplan 2007 discuss longevity among hunter-gatherers, giving us a framework for understanding what human demography may have looked like in our evolutionary past.

    Kohler, Behrman & Watkins 2001 shows the effects of different social network structure on contraceptive knowledge and contraceptive use, showing how some may promote social learning while some inhibit it.

    Lam 2011 gives important context for concerns about overpopulation in the past, and how many of these concerns were not realized though some were.

    Nolin & Ziker 2016 examines a very rapid fertility decline--more of a fertility crash--in Siberia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, emphasizing how abrupt change or high levels of uncertainty may in some cases predict to low fertility. This is also a very elegant statistical model.

    Page et al. 2016 gives an empirical test in the modern world of the mechanism by which the Neolithic Demographic Transition may have occurred thousands of years ago.

    Shenk et al. 2013 gives a brief review of different causal models of the demographic transition and a comparison among them using model selection methods on detailed data.

    Shenk, Kaplan & Hooper 2016 models the effects of status competition and inequality on fertility decisions. Results suggest that the dynamics of social competition may increase the scope of fertility decline compared to economic motivations alone.

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons From 50 Years of Extraordinary Demographic History David Lam Demography 2011 55 8
    Social network- and community-level influences on contraceptive use: Evidence from rural poland Heidi Colleran, Ruth Mace Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2015 21 2
    Status competition, inequality, and fertility: Implications for the demographic transition Mary K. Shenk, Hillard S. Kaplan, Paul L. Hooper Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 2016 13 4
    Reproductive Responses to Economic Uncertainty 0 2
    A model comparison approach shows stronger support for economic models of fertility decline 0 6
    The Density of Social Networks and Fertility Decisions: Evidence From South Nyanza District, Kenya 0 3
    Reproductive trade-offs in extant hunter-gatherers suggest adaptive mechanism for the Neolithic expansion 0 3
    Longevity Among Hunter- Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination 0 9
    Reference Materials by Non-presenting Attendees

    Amy Lastuka (Univ. Washington) Link to the source page

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Are There too Many Farms in the World? Labor-Market Transaction Costs, Machine Capacities and Optimal Farm Size 0 0

    Chhavi Tiwari (Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi) Link to the source page

    I would suggest Indian Human Development Survey data for the researchers working on India. This is the only panel data set available for the country on a large scale.


    Eva Nurwita (Univ. New Mexico) Link to the source page

    I am currently using a very broad survey data from Indonesia, capturing very broad aspects of households. But the most interesting thing about this data is about children characteristics and migration characteristics from a couple of country such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Mexico. They called Family Life Survey. This survey data is freely available in RAND Corporation site.


    Iza Romanowska (Barcelona Supercomputing Center) Link to the source page

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    Evolution and climate variability Richard Potts Science 1996 142 7

    Kailey Martinez (NM State Univ.) Link to the source page

    https://www.tdar.org

    tDAR is a digital collection of records of international archaeological investigations. There are many types of studies available and it is constantly being updated with new publications.


    Kaitlyn Davis (UC Boulder) Link to the source page

    Village Ecodynamics Project

    http://village.anth.wsu.edu/publications

    Relevance: paleoenvironmental reconstructions, identifying viable areas for food production in the past, archaeological work on different ways societies dealt with environmental changes

    SKOPE (Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments)

    https://app.openskope.org/app/discover

    Relevance: paleoenvironmental data and models (including precipitation and growing degree days) available for open source use/download (note: the website is not fully functional yet, but hopefully will be soon)

    Cajete, Gregory (ed.). 1999. A People’s Ecology: Explorations in Sustainable Living. Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe.

    Relevance: indigenous perspectives on the relationship of people and environment

    Ingram, Scott E., and Robert C. Hunt (eds.). 2015. Traditional Arid Lands Agriculture: Understanding the Past for the Future. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

    - Especially the chapter called “Understanding the Agricultural Consequences of Aggregation”

    Relevance: how populations adapt/innovate to increase the productivity/viability of landscapes with limiting resources (in this case, limited precipitation/irrigation)

    Killion, Thomas (ed.). 1992. Gardens of Prehistory: The Archaeology of Settlement Agriculture in Greater Mesoamerica. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.

    Relevance: how agriculture changes/structures society and the environment (and vice versa)


    Usama Bilal (Drexel Univ.) Link to the source page

    Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
    The epidemiologic transition: A theory of the epidemiology of population change Abdel R. Omran Milbank Quarterly 2005 303 4

    General Meeting Reference Material

    Discussion Forums