The United Nations has selected Sander van der Leeuw, dean of the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University and an SFI External Professor, as one of six individuals to receive its 2012 Champions of the Earth award.
The Champion of the Earth is the UN's flagship environment honor. It recognizes outstanding visionaries and leaders for their inspiration and action on the environment.
Recognized in the science and innovation category for his research in human-environmental relations and the scientific study of innovation as a societal process, van der Leeuw is one of 51 people who have received the UN award since it was launched in 2005.
He directed a series of regional archaeological research projects in Syria, Holland, and France aimed at understanding the long-term evolution of the relationship between societies and their environments.
Later, his work focused on bringing a long-term perspective to the problems of present-day desertification and land degradation, observing how changes in the natural environment are linked to technological, sociological and economic changes.
His team was among the first to bring a complex adaptive systems perspective to bear on the problems of the environment.
Read the ASU news release (June 4, 2012)
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