C2: The science of actionable knowledge for environmental decision-making

As societies around the world grapple with the numerous, varied, and novel challenges arising from global change, researchers and decision-makers are increasingly promoting societally-engaged sustainability research that generates ‘actionable science’ to inform environmental decisions. Yet, there remain fundamental questions about how science can better serve societal decisions, such as: What is actionable science, how is it produced, what can we expect it to achieve, and how do we evaluate it? In this session, we present results from recent studies that have applied scientific approaches to understand what makes science actionable for environmental decision-making.

Understanding and catalyzing the generation and use of actionable science draws from disciplines such as science and technology studies, political science, environmental social science, decision science, the humanities, and those working at the interface of science and practice at different scales. Additionally, it also relies upon the perspectives of practitioners who, through their work with researchers, better understand the types of engagement approaches that deliver practical benefits to decision-contexts. This session will showcase diverse perspectives on the art and science of engaged research through presentations on the conditions that enable effective research-practice partnerships, the role of funders and boundary spanners in supporting actionable science, and evaluation of the impacts of actionable knowledge. The presentations will be followed by a moderated panel discussion that will include both researchers and practitioners, to exchange experiences, results, and critical appraisals. Overall, the discussion will aim to identify additional needs to accelerate and sustain the generation and use of actionable science for societal decision-making.


  • Kripa Akila Jagannathan, Student, University of California, Berkeley
  • James Arnott, Associate Director, Aspen Global Change Institute
  • Christine Kirchhoff, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut
  • Alison Meadow, Associate Research Scientist, University of Arizona
  • Angela Bednarek, Project Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts