How did environmental and climatic changes, whether sudden high impact events or more subtle gradual changes, impact human responses in the past? How did societal perceptions of such changes affect behavioral patterns and explanatory rationalities in premodernity? And can a better historical understanding of these relationships inform our response to contemporary problems of similar nature and magnitude, such as adapting to climate change? Our initiative (CCHRI) has now been working on these issues for five years, and we have made considerable progress in developing strategies to enable palaeoscientists, archaeologists and historians to talk to one another and resolve issues of scale.

One of our main foci has been to think about the ways in which socio-environmental asymmetries with different degrees of socio-political complexity and population density precondition the potentials for inherent resilience under environmental stress. By analyzing historical societies as complex adaptive systems, we also contribute to contemporary thinking about societal-environmental interactions in policy and planning.  

To expand our analytical tool-kit we are pursuing the application of Collaborative Conceptual Modeling (CCM) in combination with ‘qualitative scenario storylines’ (QSS), a technique used to translate quantitative modelling into real-world scenarios.  We want to apply both these approaches to the adaptation of historical data about past societal responses and resilience to contemporary and future planning and to achieve this we want to engage specialists from the fields of both history and archaeology as well as the field of risk assessment and future planning.