Environmental Social Science (Complex Adaptive Systems Science), PhD

The PhD program in environmental social science is one of the few doctoral degree programs in the U.S. that draws on the premise that reducing human impacts and developing more sustainable environmental practices will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without a focus on the social dynamics of environmental issues using critical social science perspectives.

The program is organized around theoretically based conceptual domains:

  • culture and the environment
  • environmental hazards and vulnerability
  • environmental justice
  • human environment impacts
  • political ecology
  • science and technology studies

These are the bases for addressing various topical foci, including urban environments, technologies and their consequences, landscapes, institutions, and health and the environment.

Students work with faculty who have expertise in a broad range of fields including:

  • archaeology
  • community resources
  • cultural and medical anthropology
  • demography
  • environmental history
  • geographic information systems
  • human and physical geography
  • planning
  • public affairs
  • science and technology studies
  • sociology

The program trains students to move into teaching and research positions or to assume leadership roles in government, industry and nongovernmental organizations

Coursework for the degree is focused on developing real-world skills and a solid grasp of complex social science approaches to environmental issues. Students work closely with their committee to develop a curriculum appropriate to their chosen interests and career goals.

The complex adaptive systems science doctoral concentration trains the next generation of scientists in advanced concepts and methods needed for approaching diverse phenomena in the social and life sciences. The program is tightly integrated with diverse, ongoing, university-wide research on complex adaptive systems science at Arizona State University and emphasizes the value of a complex adaptive systems perspective to give better insight and a more active role in seeking solutions to a broad array of critical issues facing our society today. Students will become fluent in the common language of complexity while also receiving a solid foundation in the domain knowledge of existing academic disciplines.

Degree Offered

Environmental Social Science (Complex Adaptive Systems Science), PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

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