Special Issues


Socio-environmental systems modeling in regulatory contexts

Guest editors

Theodore Lim, Virginia Tech, USA; Lieke Melsen, Wageningen University, Netherlands; Joseph Guillaume, Australian National University, Australia; Jiri Nossent, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Flanders Hydraulics Research, Belgium 

Scope and aims

Regulatory contexts –those in which statutory or legislative tools and frameworks are used to enforce action toward specific goals—represent a unique application area for socio-environmental systems modeling. In these contexts, models are often officially adopted and institutionalized by a regulatory organization and assigned a high level of legitimacy and authority. On the one hand, such contexts could enhance the impact of SES modeling through application to real-world socio-environmental systems dilemmas, as well as promote their usage by broader audiences, resulting in a larger user community. On the other, institutionalization of models in regulatory contexts may also introduce or exacerbate complexities at the science-action interface. These complexities may include: non-scientific influences in model selection, confusion about how/when models should be improved and updated, political interests and power imbalances embedded in computer models, and practical and administrative burdens of managing increasingly diverse organizational knowledges.

In this special issue, we collect empirical and theoretical contributions that advance understanding of how SES modeling occurs in regulatory contexts, and how SES modeling processes in these contexts could be improved. We welcome both papers that address technical aspects of managing changes and updates to models and model evaluation in regulatory contexts, as well as papers that draw on social and policy science to explain the use of models in regulatory contexts. Example topics include, but are not limited to: model selection processes; model development and change management in models; model intercomparison processes, in model selection or evaluation; governance of modeling processes; the use of models in regulatory processes; analyses of power and knowledge representation in institutionalized modelling; choices made in the model development process; and analyses of stakeholders involved in model development or application.

Submission Timeline

If you are interested in participating, please email your contact details and intended contribution (title, authors, Extended Abstract) to Theodore Lim (tclim@vt.edu) by February 1, 2023. The Extended Abstracts are 1,000 words plus a bibliography that indicates the literature the paper will build upon. The participants of the International Environmental Modelling & Software Society (iEMSs) 2022 meeting are especially encouraged to apply. The special issue will be shaped based on the open call and the usual peer-review process.

After reviewing the submitted Extended Abstracts, we will invite selected author teams to submit Full Papers (around 10 – 12 journal pages long). The expected deadline for submission is August 1, 2023.


Indigenous and local perspectives in citizen science and participatory modelling of socio-ecological systems: approaches and tools

Guest editors

Wietske Medema, McGill University, Canada; Jan Adamowski, McGill University, Canada; Julien Malard, IRD (Institut de recherche pour le développement), France; Johanna Dipple, McGill University, Canada; Joel Harms, McGill University, Canada

Scope and aims

Developments in digital technologies for data collection, processing, transmission, and visualization provide increasing opportunities to create and exchange information and knowledge for water governance. Digital citizen science platforms and tools provide support systems that include data repositories and a user interface, and are developed to communicate observations, simulate environmental processes, and provide virtual spaces that enable users to participate directly in the social and scientific processes. The focus of these platforms has so far been on integrating and communicating scientific databases and models. In contrast, local, experiential and Indigenous knowledge perspectives have been absent.

Significant opportunities exist to advance these platforms in ways that they can function as actionable knowledge co-creation platforms from which diverse user-groups can benefit. The goal of this Special Issue is to bring together state-of-the-art research on new methods, both social and technical (software), to use digital technologies to improve Indigenous perspectives in citizen science and participatory modelling of socio-ecological systems from around the world. Examples of applicable research could include participatory modelling methodologies suited for less-literate stakeholders, case studies that use Indigenous knowledge and perspective to direct modelling efforts, and citizen science tools (including digital tools) with a significant applicability to Indigenous priorities (e.g., participatory mapping). We especially welcome contributions that (1) include diverse research teams (both in terms of discipline, as well as culture), (2) include one or more case studies, and (3) provide and apply clear methodologies for evaluating the societal or participatory impact of the research project.

Submission Timeline

If you are interested in participating, please email your contact details and intended contribution (title, authors, Extended Abstract) to wietske.medema@mcgill.ca by 31 Nov 2023 [extended deadline]. The Extended Abstracts are 1,000 words plus a bibliography that indicates the literature that the paper will build upon.

After reviewing the submitted Extended Abstracts, the guest editors will invite selected author teams to submit Full Papers (around 10-12 journal pages long). The deadline for submission is 29 Feb 2024.


Sensitivity Analysis of Model Output

Guest editor

Giray Ökten, Florida State University, USA

Scope and aims
This Special issue focuses on global sensitivity analysis and its impact on decisions with a scientific, social, and policy perspective. Sensitivity analysis contributes to model development, model calibration, model validation, reliability and robustness analysis, decision-making under uncertainty, quality-assurance, and model reduction. In recent years, the policymakers have required or recommended the use of sensitivity analysis in model testing and/or development, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (stress testing required by the Dodd-Frank Act), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the European Commission. The goal of this Special issue is to bring together researchers from engineering, physical and social sciences, mathematics and statistics, to create a forum for the latest research and applications of global sensitivity analysis.

Timeline and submission details
To submit to this Special Issue, please email an extended abstract (~1000 words plus bibliography) to the Guest Editor, Giray Ökten (okten@fsu.edu) by August 1, 2022. The deadline for submission of full papers is December 1, 2022.


Participatory and cross-scale modelling of social-ecological systems (SESs) in the Anthropocene

Guest editors

Melvin Lippe, Thünen Institute; Peter Barbrook-Johnson, University of Oxford; Davide Natalini, Anglia Ruskin University; Wander Jager, University of Groningen; Alex Penn, University of Surrey

Scope and aims

Frameworks for modelling social-ecological systems (SESs) often do not consider interactions across different spatial and temporal scales and tend to include only a limited number of dimensions (e.g. environmental, political, social). Using participatory modelling approaches for including a wide array of actors in cross-scale modelling of SESs is central to their effectiveness and value. But in many cases, participation is tagged on haphazardly during the modelling process, or merely paid false lip service to.

 The goal of this special issue (SI) is to bring together cutting-edge researchers and those at an early-stage of career, practitioners and policy advisors working in a relevant field to improve understanding of how to include cross-scale dynamics and participation in SESs modelling. The SI puts a strong emphasis on addressing these issues - cross-scale dynamics and participation in SES modelling - because both can have large impacts on the results of models, users' understanding, and their implications for environmental management. This becomes increasingly important for supporting stakeholder-engagement processes and policy design in the Anthropocene and the increasing uncertainty of global environmental change.   

 We invite new, bold and ambitious contributions on cross-scale modelling of SESs with a particular focus on land-related issues, i.e. rural, urban, agriculture, forestry, or other land uses. This includes water as a domain of application as there are many cross-scale interactions between land and water and related nexus issues. SI contributions may advance the theory of cross-scale SESs modelling, present examples of cross-scale SESs modelling in practice, or consider how to incorporate more participation and stakeholder involvement at different parts of the modelling cycle.

Timeline and submission details

If you are interested in participating, please email your contact details and intended contribution (title, authors, extended abstract) to melvin.lippe@thuenen.de by 31 August 2022. The Extended Abstracts are approximately 1,000 words plus a bibliography that indicates the literature that the paper will build upon.

After reviewing the submitted Extended Abstracts, we will invite selected authors to submit Full Papers (around 10-12 journal pages long). The deadline for submission of Full Papers is 13 January 2023


Large-scale behavioural models of land use change

Guest editors

Calum Brown, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; Tatiana Filatova, University of Twente; Birgit Müller, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ; Derek Robinson, University of Waterloo


Human activity is fundamentally reshaping the dynamics of the Earth System, with consequences that pose existential challenges to societies and ecosystems. Efforts to address these challenges of the Anthropocene era increasingly rely on computational models that simulate the cross-scale interactions of social, economic and environmental processes. For instance, land use and land use change, from field to global scales, result from decisions taken by individuals and shaped by social institutions, which rely on natural systems dynamics at various scales. However, today's analyses of future changes in the Earth System provide scant detail about the basic processes underlying these changes. Human agency is reduced to economic determinism and scenario-based assumptions in selecting between land use options, while ecosystem dynamics are approximated at highly aggregate levels that obscure crucial interactions. These shortcomings seriously undermine the search for realistic, robust strategies to mitigate or adapt to global environmental change.

A number of different approaches have been proposed for better understanding and modelling of cross-scale dynamics in coupled social-ecological systems.  In particular, a clear need has been identified by the research community for a new generation of large-scale (continental to global) land use models that are based on human behavior, agency and behaviorally-rich representation of decision-making processes. Such models could be linked with large-scale biophysical models as well as mechanistic ecological models, but must first overcome the difficulties of identifying and simulating key cross-scale socio-ecological processes. Particularly challenging is the question of how to upscale locally-based models of human decision-making or whether to try and create "models of everywhere". Only once these methodological challenges have been overcome will we be able to identify realistic pathways to sustainability that account for fundamental processes in human and natural systems in uncertain future conditions.

For this Special Issue, we welcome contributions dedicated to the better understanding and modelling of temporal or spatial scales in land use dynamics. These contributions can present theoretical or empirical analyses, methodological contributions, or relevant model developments, and will together build towards a robust agenda for future research in this field. Articles in the Special Issue could focus on:

      • Case study-based empirical research on land use dynamics, explicitly tackling different social scales;
      • Methodological contributions on the investigation and modelling of cross-scale dynamics (up-scaling and down-scaling methods);
      • Modelling of land use dynamics across scales and at large (continental-global) scales accounting for human agency;
      • New methods to link models covering different scales and human or natural systems;
      • Approaches to integrate behaviourally rich representation of human agency in large-scale models;
      • Representation of an interplay between individual decisions and social institutions (formal or informal) in land use change models;
      • Up-scaling of heterogeneity of individual decision strategies and local institutional contexts from case studies to larger geographical scales;

The Special Issue is supported by the joint GLP/AIMES Working Group on large scale behavioural models of land use change (https://glp.earth/how-we-work/working-groups/large-scale-behavioural-models-land-use-change) and the Human Dimensions Focus Research Group of the CSDMS (https://csdms.colorado.edu/wiki/Anthropocene_Focus_Research_Group)


The deadline for the submission of papers has been extended to the end of December 2021.

Note, any papers submitted before the deadline will be processed immediately.


Resilience of complex coupled Socio-Technical-Environmental systems through the modeling lens

Guest Editors

Tatiana Filatova (4TU.RE) & Tina Comes (4TU.RE), Christoph Hoelscher (FRS), and Juliet Mian (RS)


The global drivers of social and environmental change including urbanization, population growth, globalization, aging assets, 'net zero' and the changing climate are dramatically affecting our critical infrastructure systems. At the same time, they become increasingly inter-connected, digitalized and reliant on emerging technologies. These phenomena occur in the conditions of fragmented decentralized decision-making involving multiple stakeholders, and shifting policy environment and value chains, making top-down decisions and linear planning inadequate.

Therefore, we increasingly question the resilience of coupled Socio-Technical-Environmental (STE) systems. Across a range of applications - water, energy, agriculture, transport, urban sector, health or data & ICT - scholars and practitioners seek to explore how complex STE systems respond to changes by absorbing, learning, adapting and self-organizing. Uncertainty shaped by both chronic stresses and acute shocks challenges the planning, design, implementation and use of infrastructure. Traditionally our physical infrastructure has been designed to be robust and to last for decades, meaning that decisions can be locked-in for the long term.  The increasing pressure both on and from the environment, the interests of diverse stakeholders, new and evolving governance structures and social institutions, require a closer look at cross-scale interactions and feedbacks between social, technical and environmental components in these complex systems. Robustness alone is no longer sufficient.

The goal of this Special Issue is to bring together cutting-edge research and international practice to offer insights into the latest scientific modeling methods, gaps, challenges and opportunities and best practice examples relating to operationalizing resilience across a range of STE applications. This Special Issue focuses on the modeling aspects across a range of methods (simulation, optimization, data analytics & machine learning, and analytical, statistical, conceptual or participatory modeling) or the use of models for supporting a dialog among practitioners and policy-makers. Case-study oriented, methodological and review articles contributing to the following themes are of particular interest:

      • Urban resilience;
      • Resilience of agricultural systems;
      • Water: clean water and sanitations, flood risk and resilience;
      • Energy, particularly the energy transition;
      • Resilience of smart and interlinked transportation and mobility systems;
      • Business, organizational, logistics and supply chain networks resilience;
      • Climate-resilient development of STE systems in light of transformations;
      • Resilience and decision-making & planning under uncertainty;
      • Data analytics and machine learning to understand social resilience;
      • Distributional and ethical aspects of resilience.

We especially welcome contributions that (1) form inter-and transdisciplinary alliances, (2) combine applications across scales, sectors and disciplines (e.g. water-food-energy nexus, mitigation-adaptation nexus), or (3) actively apply resilience concepts in practice. The suggested topics provide a guideline of the scope but should not serve as a limitation. Hence, if you have an idea for a paper that raises an important issue related to the resilience of coupled Socio-Technical-Environmental systems, please contact the Guest Editors or send your expression of interest by submitting the Extended Abstract directly.


The deadline for submission of Full Papers (10-12 pages long) is Oct 31st 2021. If you are interested in participating and have any questions regarding the Special Issue, please send an email to Tatiana Filatova or any of the other Guest Editors.