Earth stewardship: a strategy for social–ecological transformation to reverse planetary degradation

  • F. Stuart ChapinIII
  • Steward T. A. Pickett
  • Mary E. Power
  • Robert B. Jackson
  • David M. Carter
  • Clifford Duke


A century ago, stewards were responsible for managing estates or for keeping order at public events. Today, the Earth is one global estate, and improved stewardship is vital for maintaining social order and for preserving life on Earth. In this paper, we describe Earth Stewardship, a social–ecological framework for sustaining life in a rapidly changing world. The paper defines the components of Earth Stewardship, characterizes the scientific needs for its agenda, and discusses initial efforts to engage multiple disciplines and segments of society in its application. As a beginning, new knowledge for global stewardship must be generated by teams of physical, biological, and social scientists. However, other stakeholders are needed for generating and applying such knowledge, including people in communities of faith, professions involved in design, planning and restoration, and policymakers and managers. Communicating environmental problems and solutions must take into account the psychology of how people perceive problems, promoting positive stances toward the actions needed for an adaptive approach to Earth Stewardship. Successful long-term stewardship of the Earth will require a global partnership linking researchers, managers, policymakers, and citizens.


Communities of faith Earth stewardship Ecological Society of America Positive psychology Science literacy Social norms Sustainability 


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Copyright information

© AESS 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Stuart ChapinIII
    • 1
  • Steward T. A. Pickett
    • 2
  • Mary E. Power
    • 3
  • Robert B. Jackson
    • 4
  • David M. Carter
    • 5
  • Clifford Duke
    • 6
  1. 1.University of Alaska FairbanksFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  3. 3.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  5. 5.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  6. 6.Ecological Society of AmericaWashingtonUSA

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