several fields will be used. This report is addressed to two main audiences: potential researchers and potential sponsors of research.
We contacted many research communities in our search for research areas to recommend and considered each suggestion in light of the above criteria. In order to consider the likelihood that research results would be used, we also reviewed available research on the use of scientific results by various kinds of decision makers. We recommend five science priorities that strongly meet the decision criteria.
Federal agencies should support a program of research in the decision sciences addressed to improving the analytical tools and deliberative processes necessary for good environmental decision making. Decisions affecting environmental processes are among the most challenging facing humanity because of the conjunction of several decision attributes, such as complexity, uncertain and conflicting values, incomplete and uncertain knowledge, long time horizons, high stakes, multiscale management, linkages among decisions, and time pressure. Good environmental decision making requires not only good environmental science, but also improved understanding of human-environment interactions and development and implementation of decision-making processes that integrate scientific understanding with deliberative processes to ensure that the science is judged to be decision relevant and credible by the range of parties interested in or affected by the decisions. The recommended research would use decision science methods to enable environmental decision processes to become increasingly responsible, competent, and socially acceptable. It would build on a foundation of basic research on decision processes, which we assume will continue to receive support. The effort would have three components.
Developing criteria of decision quality. We recommend research to define decision quality for practical environmental decisions. It would consider such questions as: Which characteristics of decision processes are associated with judgments of decision quality or acceptability by decision participants and observers? Do different kinds of people apply different criteria of decision quality? To what extent does increased attention to ideals of good public decision processes yield more positive assessments of actual decision quality? Are decisions of higher normative quality associated with preferred social and environmental outcomes? How can research results on such questions best be disseminated to their potential users?
Developing and testing formal tools for structuring decision processes. We recommend research to refine and apply tools from the decision sciences for helping decision makers better approximate ideals of good decision processes. The research might address such questions as: How can