Kai Chan

Professor
PhD, Princeton University
Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability

Kai is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented sustainability scientist, trained in ecology, policy, and ethics from Princeton University and Stanford University. He strives to understand how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be both better and wilder. Kai leads CHANS lab, Connecting Human and Natural Systems; he is a Leopold Leadership Program fellow, a director on the board of the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), a director on the board of the North American section of the Society for Conservation Biology, a member of the Global Young Academy, a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, and (in 2012) the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Primary Recipient Awards

Exploratory Workshops, Kai Chan, 2011

Kai Chan

This workshop was held Jun 25-27, 2012.

Ecosystems play a dual role in relation to humanity: (i) they are on one hand critical contributors to life-support services and benefits that simultaneously give meaning to human life; and (ii) they are subject to diverse and escalating drivers of change operating at local- to global scales and deriving from a multitude of human activities.

Regarding (i), the science of understanding the benefits of ecosystems has progressed mainly through a framework of ‘ecosystem services’, defined as the processes whereby ecosystems render benefits for people, and has been largely the province of ecologists and environmental and resource economists. Meanwhile regarding (ii), the stewardship of ecosystems, including at planetary scales, has been largely the province of ecologists, conservation biologists, and environmental activists. The narrowness of endeavors on both fronts is stark in light of the complexity of both ‘service’ and ‘stewardship’ kinds of relationships, and the necessity of capturing not just ecological and social processes separately, but together in the context of complex adaptive social-ecological systems.

This workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary group of ecologists, economists, psychologists, anthropologists, geographers, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, and terrestrial and marine management practitioners to address two thorny questions:

  1. How can research in your field contribute to an understanding of how ecosystem change might result in changes in well-being, be that defined socially, culturally or economically?
  2. How can research in your field contribute to an understanding of how we at this meeting might contribute to bold and large-scale change toward greater environmental security and social equity in a rapidly changing world?

This project will provide a re-envisioned conceptual framework for understanding ecosystems’ contributions to human well-being, and a suite of interdisciplinary insights to guide the design of stewardship initiatives at different scales.

Early Career Scholars, Kai Chan, 2006

Kai Chan