Foundations of Modeling Coupled Human & Natural Systems

A Process- and Feedback-Oriented Approach

Garry Sotnik

January, 2020

Version: 0.4.1 (work-in-progress)

How to cite: Sotnik, G. (January, 2020). Foundations of Modeling Coupled Human & Natural Systems: A Process- & Feedback-Oriented Approach. Manuscript retrieved from

Summary: Coupled Human & Natural Systems (CHANSs) is a relatively new term created by an international group of leading environmental and social scientists to reflect the interconnected nature of human and natural systems. The underlying thread tying together this new body of research and used to conceptualize human-nature interaction and behavior is complexity/systems theory. This book introduces readers to this new and exciting field of study, to modeling and simulation in general, and specifically to five modeling approaches useful for conducting research within this new field, including Causal-Loop Diagramming, Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping, Stock & Flow Modeling, Social Network Modeling, and Multi-Agent Modeling. Through hands-on application, readers will explore a number of concepts related to modeling and complexity/systems theory, including: feedback, nonlinear dynamics, regime shifts, self-organization, self-organized criticality, emergence, the adaptive cycle, and resilience.

Copyright: 2020 Garry Sotnik

Table of contents

Front Matter

Title page



About the author and editing team



PART 1: Problems and solutions in coupled human & natural systems

1. Problems and solutions in coupled human & natural systems

PART 2: Theoretical foundations

2. Organized complexity

3. Organized complexity and human cognition

4. Coupled human and natural systems

5. Resilience, vulnerability, & adaptive capacity

PART 3: Modeling & simulation

6. Modeling & simulation

7. A general modeling methodology

8. Causal-loop diagramming

9. Fuzzy cognitive mapping

10. Stock and flow modeling

11. Social network modeling

12. Multi-agent modeling

13. Participatory modeling

14. Scenario analysis

15. Uncertainty analysis

16. Communication & accreditation

Part 4: Case studies

17. Multilevel Group Selection I

End Matter