push beyond the boundaries of their home disciplines in thinking about global change without jeopardizing their career trajectories. One way to accomplish this goal is to create a prestigious nationwide fellowship program designed to allow individuals desiring to retool or enhance their knowledge of the human dimensions of global change to spend considerable periods of time (up to two years) interacting intensively with social scientists and natural scientists from other disciplines working in the area. Such fellowships should be open to advanced graduate students, postdoctoral scientists, and mid-career scientists on a competitive basis. They should carry large enough stipends to attract the best and the brightest and be prestigious enough to count heavily in evaluations of career performance. While individual fellows should be allowed considerable freedom to design their own programs, we expect that many will choose to associate themselves with one of the national centers for research on the human dimensions of global change called for in our next recommendation.
Recommendation 5 The federal government should join with private funding sources to establish about five national centers for research on the human dimensions of global change and to make a commitment to funding these centers on a long-term basis.
There is no surefire method of getting results in any field of scientific inquiry. Every method has its drawbacks; no method by itself is sufficient to do the job. Nonetheless, the committee believes that, in the social sciences at least, well-funded national research centers have played an important role in producing some of the most impressive advances in both basic and applied research. Exemplary cases include the Office of Population Research at Princeton in the field of demography, the National Bureau of Economic Research in quantitative macroeconomics, and the complex of research centers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the area of arms control. Not only have such centers provided critical mass by bringing together groups of individual scientists with overlapping interests, but they have also served to surmount some of the institutional impediments to progress in interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary fields of study. The human dimensions of global change is an emerging field of inquiry that is ripe for this sort of treatment; about five national centers for research in this general area should be established over the next 3-5 years.