Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability NSF-Wide Investment (SEES), National Science Foundation (NSF)

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Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability NSF-Wide Investment  (SEES)    

SEES Mission Statement

To advance science, engineering, and education to inform the societal actions needed for environmental and economic sustainability and sustainable human well-being.


For general inquiries about SEES related activities: 

For program or discipline-specific questions, please see the full list of contacts at:

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Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) is a portfolio of activities that highlights NSF's unique role in helping society address the challenge(s) of achieving sustainability. 

SEES Portfolio of Programs:

Arctic SEESDimensions of Biodiversity Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) Phase I, FY 13 
Climate Change Education Partnerships Interdisciplinary Research in Hazards and Disasters (Hazards SEES)Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering, and Materials (SusChEM)
Coastal SEESOcean AcidificationSustainable Energy Pathways (SEP)
Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES)Partnerships for International Research & Education (PIRE)Sustainability Research Networks (SRN)
Decadal & Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models (EaSM) Research Coordination Networks (RCN)Water Sustainability and Climate (WSC)
Dynamics of Coupled Natural & Human Systems (CNH) SEES Fellows 









About SEES:

A sustainable world is one in which human needs are met equitably without harm to the environment, and without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.  Meeting this formidable challenge requires a substantial increase in our understanding of the integrated system of society, the natural world, and the alterations humans bring to Earth.  NSF's Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) activities aim to address this need through support for interdisciplinary research and education.

Fundamental to all sustainability research is the simultaneous consideration of social, economic, and environmental systems and the long-term viability of those systems. Concepts that underlie the science of sustainability include complex adaptive systems theory, emergent behavior, multi-scale processes, as well as the vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and resilience of coupled human-environment systems. An important research goal is to understand how patterns and processes at the local and regional scales are shaped by-and feed into-processes and patterns that manifest at the global scale over the long term.  These topics guide research to explore alternate ways of managing the environment, migrating from finite resources to renewable or inexhaustible resources, and applying technology to improve human well-being. Conceptual frameworks for sustainability, including general theories and models, are critically needed for such informed decision-making.

SEES activities span the entire range of scientific domains at NSF and aim to: 1) support interdisciplinary research and education that can facilitate the move towards global sustainability; 2) build linkages among existing projects and partners and add new participants in the sustainability research enterprise; and 3) develop a workforce trained in the interdisciplinary scholarship needed to understand and address the complex issues of sustainability.

Participating Organizations: Directorate for Biological Sciences, Directorate for Computer Information Science and Engineering, Office of Cyberinfrastructure, Directorate for Education and Human Resources, Directorate for Engineering, Directorate for Geosciences, Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Office of Integrative Activities, Office of International Science & Engineering, Office of Polar Programs, Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences

SEES-Related Programs, Activities and News:

Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2013 (STTR) (NSF 13-501).
The STTR program solicits proposals from the small business sector.  The FY13 solicitation for STTR places emphasis on Accelerating Sustainability using Enabling Technologies (ASET).  Proposals are required to focus on technologies aimed at attaining environmental and economic sustainability and to clearly identify the intended commercial outcome of the research: product, process or service. Deadlines: Letters of Intent (required): January 8, 2013; Full proposals: February 6, 2013.

Cyber-Enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) (NSF 13-500)
The CyberSEES program aims to advance interdisciplinary research in which the science and engineering of sustainability are enabled by new advances in computing, and where computational innovation is grounded in the context of sustainability problems.
Deadlines: Letters of Intent: December 4, 2012; Full proposals: February 5, 2013

Interdisciplinary Research in Hazards and Disasters (Hazards SEES) (NSF 12-610) 
The Hazards SEES program is a multi-directorate program that seeks to: (1) advance understanding of fundamental processes associated with specific natural hazards and technological hazards linked to natural phenomena, and their interactions; (2) better understand the causes, interdependences, impacts and cumulative effects of hazards on individuals, the natural and built environment, and society as a whole; and (3) improve capabilities for forecasting or predicting hazards, mitigating their effects, and enhancing the capacity to respond to and recover from resultant disasters.  Deadline: February 4, 2013

Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability Fellows (SEES Fellows) (NSF 12-601)
Through SEES Fellows, NSF seeks to enable the discoveries needed to inform actions that lead to environmental, energy and societal sustainability while creating the necessary workforce to address these challenges. Deadline: November 26, 2012; November 21, 2013; Third Thursday in November, Annually Therafter
Frequently Asked Questions for SEES Fellows (NSF 11-088)
News Release: NSF Investments Develop a Workforce for Sustainability Research and Education (NSF 12-196) (October 15, 2012) (FY 12 Awards)

Ocean Acidification (OA) (NSF 12-600)
The goal of this solicitation is to understand a) the geochemistry and biogeochemistry of ocean acidification; b) how ocean acidification interacts with biological and physical processes at the organismal level, and how such interactions impact the structure and function of ecosystems; and c) how the earth system history informs our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification on the present day and future ocean.   Deadline: December 4, 2012
News Release:
NSF Awards Grants to Study Effects of Ocean Acidification (NSF 10-186) (FY 10 Awards)
Discovery Article: Trouble in Paradise: Ocean Acidification This Way Comes (January 4, 2012)
News Release: Ocean Acidification: Finding New Answers Through National Science Foundation Research Grants (NSF 12-179) (September 26, 2012) (FY12 Awards)

Coastal SEES (NSF 12-594)
The Coastal SEES program is a multi-directorate program that seeks to 1) enable place-based system-level understanding of coastal systems on a variety of spatial and temporal scales; 2) yield outcomes with predictive value in coastal systems; and 3) identify pathways by which outcomes could be used to enhance coastal sustainability. Deadline: January 17, 2013

Dear Colleague Letter: Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering, and Materials (SusChEM) (NSF 12-097)
This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) draws attention to opportunities for research and education in the chemical sciences and engineering related to sustainable synthesis, use, and reuse of chemicals and materials under the initiative of Sustainable Chemistry, Engineering, and Materials (SusChEM).

Arctic SEES (ArcSEES) (NSF 12-553)
ArcSEES is a multi-year, interdisciplinary program which seeks both fundamental research that improves our ability to evaluate the sustainability of the Arctic human-environmental system as well as integrated efforts which will provide community-relevant sustainability pathways and engineering solutions.  For this competition, interdisciplinary research will be focused in four thematic areas: the natural and living environment, the built environment, natural resource development, and governance. 
Press Release:
NSF Partners With U.S. and International Agencies to Foster Research on Sustainability in the Arctic (Press Release 12-101)

Dimensions of Biodiversity (NSF 12-528)
The Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign seeks to transform how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. The campaign promotes novel, integrated approaches to identify and understand the evolutionary and ecological significance of biodiversity amidst the changing environment of the present day and in the geologic past. This campaign takes a broad view of biodiversity, and currently focuses on the integration of genetic, taxonomic/phylogenetic, and functional dimensions of biodiversity. While this focus complements several core NSF programs, it differs by requiring that multiple dimensions of biodiversity be addressed simultaneously, in innovative or novel ways, to understand their synergistic roles in critical ecological and evolutionary processes.
News Release: NSF Awards Grants to Study Dimensions of Earth's Biodiversity (NSF 10-179) (FY10 Awards)
News Release: Diversity of Life on Earth: NSF Awards Grants for Study of Dimensions of Biodiversity (NSF 11-233) (FY11 Awards)
Discovery Article: Biodiversity of Earth's Richest Plant Kingdom Under Fire (January 27, 2012)
Abstracts Booklet: Dimensions of Biodiversity FY2011 Projects (NSF 12-053) (February 16, 2012)
Discovery Article: Earth Week: A Stream Is a Stream Is a Stream: Or Is It? (April 16, 2012)
News Release: Stemming the Tide of Biodiversity Loss on Earth (NSF 12-173) (September 24, 2012) (FY12 Awards)

Climate Change Education (CCE): Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) Program, Phase II (CCEP-II) (NSF 12-523)
The CCEP Program seeks to establish a coordinated national network of regionally- or thematically-based partnerships devoted to increasing the adoption of effective, high quality educational programs and resources related to the science of climate change and its impacts. This solicitation is for proposals for (CCEP-II).  CCEP-II awardees will receive up to 5 years of funding to support full-scale implementation of mature and robust strategic plans already developed by regional or thematic partnerships to improve climate change education activities at a significant scale and meet the goals of the CCE program. 
Frequently Asked Questions for CCE Program (NSF 12-033)
News Release: Climate Change Education Partnership Awards (NSF 10-165) (FY 10 Awards)

Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models (EaSM) (NSF 12-522)
This interdisciplinary grand challenge calls for the development of next-generation Earth System Models that include coupled and interactive representations of ecosystems, agricultural working lands and forests, urban environments, biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, ocean and atmospheric currents, the water cycle, land ice, and human activities.
Frequently Asked Questions for EaSM (NSF 12-029)
News Release: New interagency program to improve predictions of climate change and its impacts (NSF-10-044) (Video)  
News Release:
Earth System Models at Decadel and Regional Scales Critical to Understanding Climate Change Effects (NSF 11-232) (FY11 Awards)
Discovery Article: The Snows of Mount Washington (March 2, 2012)

Sustainable Energy Pathways (SEP) (NSF 11-590)
SEP calls for innovative, interdisciplinary basic research in SEES by teams of researchers for developing systems approaches to sustainable energy pathways based on a comprehensive understanding of the scientific, technical, environmental, economic, and societal issues.  The SEP solicitation considers scalable approaches for sustainable energy conversion to useful forms, as well as its storage, transmission, distribution, and use.
News Release: Finding New Paths Forward for Sustainable Energy (NSF 12-175) (September 25, 2012) (FY12 Awards)

Sustainability Research Networks
(Most recent solicitation: NSF 11-574)
The goal of the Sustainability Research Networks (SRN) competition is to support the development and coalescence of entities to advance collaborative research that addresses questions and challenges in sustainability science, engineering, and education.
Sustainability Frequently Asked Questions (SRN FAQs)
News Release: Two NSF Sustainability Research Networks Are Each Awarded $12 Million (NSF 12-185) (October 2, 2012)

Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)
(Most recent solicitation: NSF 11-564)
(Dear Colleague Letter: NSF 11-025)
The primary goal of PIRE is to support high quality projects in which advances in research and education could not occur without international collaboration. The FY 2012 PIRE competition will be focused exclusively on the NSF-wide SEES investment area.
PIRE Frequently Asked Questions

Water Sustainability and Climate
(Most recent solicitation: NSF 11-551)
The goal of the WSC program is to enable new interdisciplinary paradigms in water research, which  broadly integrate across the biological sciences, geosciences, engineering, and social sciences to address water systems in their entirety.  
News Release: NSF Awards Grants for Study of Water Sustainability and Climate (NSF 10-182) (FY 10 Awards)
Discovery Article: Cry Me a River: Following a Watershed's Winding Path to Sustainability (March 9, 2012)
News Release: How is Earth's Water System Linked With Land Use, Climate Change and Ecosystems? (NSF 12-174) (September 24, 2012) (FY12 Awards)

Research Coordination Networks (RCN) (NSF 11-531)
The goal of the RCN program is to advance a field or create new directions in research or education. Groups of investigators will be supported to communicate and coordinate their research, training and educational activities across disciplinary, organizational, geographic and international boundaries. The program has a SEES track. 
News Release: National Science Foundation Makes First Awards in Sustainability Research Coordination Networks (NSF 11-228) (FY11 Awards)
Discovery Article: Can Marcellus Shale Gas Development and Healthy Waterways Sustainably Coexist? (December 9, 2011)
News Release: Maintaining Earth's Sustainability: Scientists, Engineers, Educators Take Coordinated Approach (NSF 12-169) (FY12 Awards)

Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems (CNH)
(Most recent solicitation: NSF 10-612)
This program promotes interdisciplinary analyses of relevant human and natural system processes and complex interactions among human and natural systems at diverse scales. The most recent revision of the solicitation included special emphasis on SEES related proposals. News Release: New Understandings of How Humans and the Environment Interact (NSF 11-199)  
Discovery Article: Cooking Up Clean Air in Africa (January 3, 2013)
Discovery Article: Studying Nature's Rhythms: Soundscape Ecologists Spawn New Field (February 6, 2012)
Frequently Asked Questions for CNH (NSF 11-084)
News Release: National Science Foundation Awards Grants for Research on Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF 12-184) (October 1, 2012) (FY12 Awards)

SEES Newsletter Volume 1, Spring 2012
NSF Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) Discovery Articles
Fact Sheet: Towards a Sustainable Future (February 13, 2012)
NSF Partners With U.S. and International Agencies to Foster Research on Sustainability in the Arctic (Press Release 12-101)
SEES History and Portfolio
SEES News Releases
SEES Updates
SEES FY 2010 Activities
SEES FY 2011 Activities & Opportunities
SEES FY12 Activities & Opportunities
National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

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