Posted: September 28, 2020

Full proposal due January 11, 2021

The United States is made up of regional systems comprising interdependent urban and rural systems and every community category between urban and rural. Urban systems are dependent on rural systems for the provisioning of food, energy, water, and other materials and natural resources, while rural systems are dependent on urban systems for markets, manufactured goods, and medical resources. These systems are also connected by ecological processes that both influence and are influenced by human behavior. The vital interconnection of urban-rural systems underscores the critical need for the advancement of sustainable regional systems (SRS). The goal of this solicitation is to fund convergent research and education that will advance sustainable regional systems science, engineering, and education to facilitate the transformation of current regional systems to enhance sustainability. To further the advancement of SRS science, engineering, and education, NSF will support Full Scale proposals and Planning Grant proposals for Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks (SRS RNs).

Sustainable regional systems are connected urban and rural systems that are transforming their structures and processes collaboratively with the goal of measurably and equitably advancing the well-being of people and the planet. The purpose of the SRS RNs competition is to develop and support interdisciplinary, multi-organizational teams of investigators and stakeholders working collaboratively to produce cutting-edge convergent research, education, and outreach that addresses grand challenges in sustainable regional systems. SRS RNs will study multiscale regional systems to further SRS science, engineering, and education. Key elements will include new data, methods, and models to understand interactions between natural, human-built, and social systems; improved understanding of interdependencies, mutual benefits, and trade-offs of different wellbeing outcomes for humans and the environment; new and generalizable theories of change relevant to SRS; the co-production of knowledge; and exploration of concepts of social equity in sustainable regional systems across spatial and temporal scales. SRS RN outcomes will have the potential to inform societal actions for sustainability across urban systems and the connected rural communities that make up regional systems.

Subject to availability of funds and quality of proposals, this SRS RN solicitation will support projects in the following categories:

  • SRS RNs Full Scale Awards (Track 1). These awards will support fundamental convergent research, education, and outreach that addresses engineering, environmental (biology, chemistry - including sensing, chemical analytics, and recyclable plastics, atmospheric sciences, hydrology, geology), computer and data sciences, and social and behavioral sciences of sustainable regional systems in partnerships that may embrace universities, colleges, practitioners, non-profit organizations, local governments, industry, and community groups. The award size is up to $15 million total with a duration of 5 years.
  • SRS RNs Planning Grants (Track 2). These awards are for capacity building to prepare project teams to propose future well-developed SRS RN Full Scale (Track 1) proposals. Each of these Track 2 awards will provide support for a period of one year and may be requested at a level not to exceed $150,000 for the total budget.

SRS RNs will conduct innovative and pioneering fundamental research and education that is of a scale and complexity that would not be possible within a single organization, center, or through the normal collaborative modes of NSF research support in core programs.

See full solicitation here

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