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Publication Date
23 February 2022

Setting the Stage for the Future of MultiSector Dynamics Research

Defining key terms and concepts for the field of MultiSector Dynamics and identifying important science questions driving the field forward.
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MultiSector Dynamics (MSD) is a scientific field that studies the co-evolution of human and Earth systems. Example research areas include sustainability, climate change risks, and energy system transitions. In this commentary, we provide definitions for core concepts and themes in the field. We also describe important science questions, ongoing activities, and provide a vision for the field moving forward. A key part of the future vision is the goal to facilitate a diverse, transdisciplinary workforce and to leverage open science to tackle MSD problems.


This is the first paper that comprehensively describes the field of MultiSector Dynamics, carefully laying out key terms and concepts for the community. The survey of existing research in the field is a useful marker for where we are and where we want and need to go. This paper will help grow the MSD community by making it easier for new researchers to assimilate into the field. 


The field of MultiSector Dynamics (MSD) explores the dynamics and co-evolutionary pathways of human and Earth systems with a focus on critical goods, services, and amenities delivered to people through interdependent sectors. This commentary lays out core definitions and concepts, identifies MSD science questions in the context of the current state of knowledge, and describes ongoing activities to expand capacities for open science, leverage revolutions in data and computing, and grow and diversify the MSD workforce. Central to our vision is the ambition of advancing the next generation of complex adaptive human-Earth systems science to better address interconnected risks, increase resilience, and improve sustainability. This will require convergent research and the integration of ideas and methods from multiple disciplines. Understanding the tradeoffs, synergies, and complexities that exist in coupled human-Earth systems is particularly important in the context of energy transitions and increased future shocks. 

Point of Contact
Jennie Rice
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Funding Program Area(s)