Satellite: Telecoupling Systems

Thursday, October 1, 2015
8:30 am – 12:00 pm
Hilton DoubleTree:  Redrock

Satellite Organizers

Beth Tellman, Arizona State University, USA
Jesse Sayles, Arizona State University, USA
Ashwina Mahanti, Arizona State University, USA
Karina Benessiah, Arizona State University, USA


In our globalized world, we are increasingly recognizing how distal interactions between people, places, and institutions, create complex, non-linear outcomes that drive land use change and challenge traditional governance and management regimes. In response, the telecoupling heuristic has been advanced as one way to understand the causes, mechanisms and consequences of these interactions. Telecoupled systems are two or more socially or spatially distant social-ecological systems that exert an influence on one another and might even create ‘spillover’ effects. Since governance of these linked systems, remain independent, the telecoupled nature of these interactions appear to be surprising and emergent (Eakin et al., 2014). Two significant frameworks have been put forward to address the complexity of distal drivers and their interactions and its implications for land use change. One focuses on interactions between geographically distant social and ecological systems (Liu et al., 2013) and another defines interactions as telecoupled if they are either spatially or socially distant (Eakin et al., 2014). This session will explore and further develop these frameworks and to discuss their utility and various applications.

While land systems science generally seeks to understand the processes and places of land use change, telecoupling in particular tries to understand the mechanisms through which distant drivers create unanticipated consequences for land use change in distant places. Questions still remain, however, about how telecouplaing improves land change science and its applications to complex systems understandings. Does telecoupling challenge us to redraw or broaden the boundaries of our systems models? If everything is connected, where does the boundary end? What are the differences and synergies between telecoupling and related concepts such as spatial resilience, the politics of scale, social-ecological mismatches, and social-ecological network studies? Do systems need to be distant in space to be telecoupled, or can they be geographically similar and socially or institutionally distant? What lessons can be learned from other disciplines to help overcome the methodological challenges of delineating telecoupled systems and studying their interactions? What does this framework mean for governing land use change?

Call for abstracts:


Moral Teleconnections: International Drug Policy Shaping land Use Trajectories in Drug Transit Zones
Kendra McSweeney, Ohio State University, USA
Erik Nielsen, Northern Arizona University, USA