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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

BECS Mission and History


The Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) mobilizes social and behavioral sciences to identify equitable and effective solutions to the challenges at the intersection of environmental change and society. Such solutions must consider drivers of behavior and decision making at all scales, including individuals, communities, businesses and governments. Critical drivers include societal values, norms, socioeconomic factors, markets, and policies. The Board draws on interdisciplinary expertise to address the social, political, economic and equity dimensions of environmental change.

Board Statement of Task

BECS will be responsible for NRC programs that build understanding of human interactions with the biophysical environment; contribute to the development of a coherent field of scientific endeavor in this area; integrate social and behavioral science research into environmental science and policy; advance the behavioral, social, and decision sciences; and provide benefits to society through the application of these sciences to human-environment interactions. BECS will be proactive in seeking collaboration with Boards and Committees throughout the NRC that have technical expertise in areas that intersect with the interests of BECS in promoting the integration of the contributions of the social sciences with those of other sciences and technologies as the NAS advises the nation about the causes and consequences of environmental change and informs environmental decisions.

In this context, the role of BECS will encompass strategic planning, program development, and oversight of NRC studies and other activities initiated under the auspices of the board. In executing its charge, the BECS will: (1) maintain surveillance of the field and explore the state of knowledge in selected areas judged to be of particular importance as a basis for the development of prospective NRC studies and other activities; (2) provide a venue for contact and communication among basic and applied researchers in the United States and abroad; (3) interest scientists outside the field of human-environmental sciences in conducting basic research relevant to major theoretical and methodological issues; (4) respond to requests from sponsors for guidance and advice from the NRC on specific problems or issues relating to their programs; and (5) serve as the U.S. National Committee for the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change.


The Board on Environmental Change and Society (BECS) evolved from the Committee on Human Dimensions of Global Change (CHDGC), which has since 1989 helped to guide research on the interactions between human activities and the environment. It provided a forum for linking the social and natural sciences in research, planning, and decisionmaking. BECS will continue in this tradition, while expanding on the types of issues that it may consider, to address emerging scientific and governmental concerns.

More information on BECS' inaugural meeting



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