The Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) at Arizona State University (ASU) was established in 2004 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance scientific understanding of environmental decision making under conditions of uncertainty. Bolstered by Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMUU) collaborative groups funding from the NSF, “DCDC II” was launched in October 2010 and is poised to expand its already-extensive research agenda, further engage the policy community, and forge stronger ties between knowledge and action. In this second phase of DCDC funding, we will develop fundamental knowledge about decision making from three interdisciplinary perspectives: climatic uncertainties, urban-system dynamics, and adaptation decisions. Simulation modeling and boundary organization studies are cross-cutting themes and will be core DCDC activities.
To date, DCDC has produced: (1) a critical mass of basic research, including over 325 articles, books, and book chapters (over 150 of these appearing since the start of DCDC II in 2010); (2) WaterSim, a dynamic water-simulation model that serves as an important basis for stakeholder engagement and decision support, a point of articulation for interdisciplinary research, and an experimental setting to study decision making under uncertainty; (3) an extensive network of relationships with regional water managers and resource decision makers; (4) productive partnerships with research and education efforts affiliated with ASU’s Global Institute for Sustainability (GIOS), including the Central Arizona–Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, the Decision Theater, and the School of Sustainability; and (5) a significant and growing set of comparative and collaborative partnerships linking our Phoenix-based case study to water sustainability and urban climate adaptation efforts nationally and internationally.
As our mission has evolved to focus not only on water sustainability but also urban climate adaptation, DCDC researchers now work to develop and implement decision-support processes for environmental decision making. Through an integrated approach to research and education, DCDC trains a new generation of scientists who work successfully at the boundaries of science and policy. DCDC II continues to build bridges between science and policy to foster local-to-global sustainability solutions.
Global Institute of Sustainability
DCDC II benefits from its connection to ASU’s Global Institute for Sustainability (GIOS), which has developed highly visible, trans‐disciplinary research projects that convene faculty members from different units and link environmental science, social science, and policy. As the intellectual home of DCDC II, GIOS offers access to resources on the leading edge of sustainability science and practice—a field centered on the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental systems.
Through a wealth of local, national, and international partnerships, GIOS facilitates DCDC II’s efforts to build scientist stakeholder relationships and disseminate the principles of managing environment risk more widely. ASU’s Decision Theater, managed by GIOS, offers a decision laboratory and visualization space for experimenting with, and applying these science‐based solutions for societal problems. GIOS fosters solutions to important societal problems through interdisciplinary centers, such as the Central Arizona Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) project, and offers degree programs in sustainability at its School of Sustainability.
GIOS focus on urban systems examines the potential for broader impacts in a world where more than half the population, 3.3 billion people, live in cities and, as such, produces interdisciplinary research that directly supports the vision and mission of DCDC II.