Amazonia at the Crossroads: Transdisciplinary Research

Setting the Agenda for International Transdisciplinary Research of Consequence

George Mason University – Jan. 17, 2023
In collaboration with the Belmont Forum,
Interamerican Institute for Global Change Research,
São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), and the
Smithsonian Institute (USA)

Mason Researchers Host International Workshop to Imagine the Future of Consequential Research in Amazonia

On January 17, 2023, twenty-seven scientists, advocates, and policy leaders from throughout the Amazon River Basin gathered at the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Virginia, for an all-day Workshop focused on the future of transdisciplinary research in the region. Entitled “Amazonia at the Crossroads: Setting the Agenda for International Transdisciplinary Research of Consequence,” the daylong meeting convened leaders from Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and the United States, and represented academic disciplines as varied as conservation biology, anthropology, environmental economics, education, botany, political science, geography, geochemistry, and climate science. In addition to academic leaders–including several members from various national academies of science–the Workshop convened funding agencies, NGOs, and multilateral banks. 


“Amazonia at the Crossroads” set out to achieve three interrelated goals. First, it sought to identify the most urgent research problems in Amazonia today. What are the most important questions and themes that require transdisciplinary and applied research ? Second, participants discussed and articulated a set of principles to guide funding agencies and foundations in a call for equitable, community-oriented scientific innovation. Finally, participants defined specific pathways for international collaboration on topics as diverse as data sharing, Amazonian bioeconomy, and assessing transnational criminal networks in the region. Along these lines, Mason researchers from biology, public policy, environmental science, and the social sciences initiated partnerships with a variety of researchers and institutions in Latin America. This is the first step in the incubation of an Amazon-focused research cluster at George Mason University that will focus on integrative conservation, socio-environmental justice, and sustainable economic development in the region.


Sponsored by Mason’s Institute for a Sustainable Earth and the global research organization Future Earth, Amazonia at the Crossroads resulted in a set of findings that will help shape a transnational funding call for transdisciplinary research focused on Amazonia and other tropical biomes. The Workshop included participants from the Belmont Forum, which is currently developing a “Collaborative Research Action” initiative in partnership with Brazil’s São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and the Interamerican Institute for Global Change Research. Over the next year, Mason researchers will continue to help shape this funding agenda, which emphasizes international, team-based approaches to the most urgent research-to-action priorities in greater Amazonia. National and international funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the European Research Council, the French National Research Council, and the Moore Foundation have also committed to helping shape this exciting research agenda. 


“Amazonia at the Crossroads” is the second time that Mason researchers have participated in ambitious global-agenda setting events coordinated by the Belmont Forum: in 2021-22 Mason played a key role in shaping calls for funding research on “Integrated Approaches to Human Migration,” again with significant coordination from the Institute for a Sustainable Earth. Twelve national and international funding agencies currently have open calls for migration-related research funding. 

Below, you can read the key findings of “Amazonia at the Crossroads: Setting the Agenda for International Transdisciplinary Research of Consequence.”