PLAN Goals

1. Build a Network of Scholars

The sine qua non of this program is the cultivation of a community of scholars (both inside and outside the academy) who appreciate the complex nature of planetary limits. This will require both finding scholars who have already come to understand these interlocking issues, and also shepherding the intellectual transition from realizing these are important problems to understanding the magnitude of the associated issues and thinking systemically about them.

2. Promote Research and Scholarship

Considerable scholarly work is needed to fully understand planetary limits, and much of this work transcends the traditional silos of academic disciplines. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, considerable scholarship is needed to develop appropriate responses to planetary limits, including envisioning and laying the groundwork for realistic scenarios that lie between techno-utopian and apocalyptic. The interdisciplinary community of PLAN will catalyze new collaborative efforts in this space, complementing and expanding upon scholarship undertaken by scholars both inside and outside of the academy. The network may also aim to promote funding for scholarship in this space.

3. Improve Undergraduate Education

Few students who graduate from our colleges and universities are exposed to systems-level thinking, and even fewer are exposed to the planetary limits that will almost certainly shape their futures. PLAN will develop instructional resources that can be used by faculty at different institutional types to better educate students. These efforts may leverage existing work being done by related groups but would focus on planetary limits, energy literacy, systems thinking, and resilience.

4. Reach Beyond the Campus

Scholars can have an impact far beyond their campuses (or other home institutions) in a variety of ways, including K-12 outreach, continuing education or extension programs, service in professional organizations or on government advisory boards, engaging in community resilience efforts (including through experiential or service learning courses), and shaping the public discourse through op-eds, books, blogs, and media appearances. PLAN will develop resources to empower its members to perform meaningful outreach and service in order to promote a broader awareness of planetary limits and related topics.