area of investment. SEES aims for a systems-based approach to “advance science, engineering, and education to inform the societal actions needed for environmental and economic sustainability and sustainable human well-being”7 and places an emphasis on interdisciplinary efforts. It provides a programmatic opportunity to put the recommended principles of this report into practice at NSF. For the field of computer science, efforts such as this can serve as a model for conceptualizing funding structures in order to take the greatest advantage of the depth of IT and CS innovation that the core discipline can offer to the rich and globally important problem space of sustainability.
The type of work described above will have to be done across disciplinary boundaries and to involve experts from many disciplines, as well as individuals who themselves have deep expertise in more than one discipline. Among the several opportunities for enhancing multidisciplinary approaches are scholarships that emphasize the development of expertise in complementary disciplines, and regular, high-level summits involving CS and sustainability experts—practitioners and researchers—to inform shared research design, assess progress, and identify gaps and opportunities.
Research institutions—both universities and funding organizations—could better address the needs of authentic multidisciplinary research, in terms of adjustments to how individuals are evaluated and in terms of publications, funding, criteria for promotion, infrastructure for sustained collaboration, and cross training.
PRINCIPLE: Encourage research at and across disciplinary boundaries, well informed by specifics and well structured to handle scale, data, integration, architecture, simulation, optimization, iteration, and human and systems aspects. CS research in sustainability should be an interdisciplinary effort, with experts in the various fields of sustainability being equal partners in the research.
PRINCIPLE: Refine funding and programmatic options to reinforce and provide incentives for the necessary boundary crossing and integration in CS research to address sustainability challenges. In particular, funding, promotion, and review and assessment (peer
7SEES mission statement. Available at http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=504707.