The Journal of Ecology and Society frequently has interesting papers, and the current issue includes “Toward an Integrated History to Guide the Future”.
Many contemporary societal challenges manifest themselves in the domain of human–environment interactions. There is a growing recognition that responses to these challenges formulated within current disciplinary boundaries, in isolation from their wider contexts, cannot adequately address them. Here, we outline the need for an integrated, transdisciplinary synthesis that allows for a holistic approach, and, above all, a much longer time perspective. We outline both the need for and the fundamental characteristics of what we call “integrated history.” This approach promises to yield new understandings of the relationship between the past, present, and possible futures of our integrated human–environment system. We recommend a unique new focus of our historical efforts on the future, rather than the past, concentrated on learning about future possibilities from history. A growing worldwide community of transdisciplinary scholars is forming around building this Integrated History and future of People on Earth (IHOPE). Building integrated models of past human societies and their interactions with their environments yields new insights into those interactions and can help to create a more sustainable and desirable future. The activity has become a major focus within the global change community.
Key words: agency; anthropocene; backcasting; causality; contingency; holistic approach; integrated history; long-term perspective; resilience; social and ecological systems
Toward an Integrated History to Guide the Future