SEIS Framework and Student Research

Written by Kristin Olofsson

After the introduction of the Social-Ecological-Infrastructural Systems (SEIS) framework, there were many discussions and reflections on how our respective research goals fit into the framework and how the framework might affect our research. For some, this was the first time a “framework” had been used to describe or situate their work into a larger picture. For others, the SEIS framework presented a new way of considering how their work might impact other, perhaps previously unrelated, disciplines. A common theme seemed to be that the SEIS framework opened new possibilities for inter-disciplinary learning and applications, across disciplinary boundaries that may have previously seemed insurmountable or even irrelevant.

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Some of the students studying together at the IIT-Kanpur campus.*

The social scientists see the framework as an opportunity to use the physical science to “inform prioritization of policy options”, according to JC Martel, or “by providing a tool that I can use to trace problem identification to solution creation and ultimately policy development” (Kristin Olofsson). Chen Zhang feels that “the SEIS framework provides the interdisciplinary and international perspectives necessary for me to uncover possibilities for more sustainable cities that will improve health and well-being, the environment, and civic engagement.” The SEIS framework appears to be creating a pathway to enhance knowledge sharing, research dissemination and cooperative problem solving.

For physical scientists and engineers, in the words of Srinidhi Murali, whose research focuses on air quality and health, “diseases caused by air pollution [are] of concern to people in cities and thus motivation to invest, maintain and improve infrastructure. The SEIS framework has helped me come to this realisation.” The SEIS framework has provided a stimulus for physical scientists and engineers to position their research into broader themes, to perhaps consider not just what the final result of an air pollution measurement might be, but rather how that measurement might be used to inform decision makers about the health of their constituencies and how those decision makers can best solve pressing urban health and infrastructure issues.

*Picture from Valerie Moye

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