Letter from the Editor

Susan Cutter

Environmental Science has a rich, discipline-specific and trans-disciplinary complexity. From its roots in the work of polymaths such as Alexander von Humboldt to those engaged with current issues, understanding and even wisdom have been motivating factors. What does the science tell us about the environment we live in? How have our perspectives on the environment evolved in terms of the science we have brought to it? Where have our efforts to respond to threats against the environment led us? How can we best ensure a sustainable relationship with our local, national and global environment? The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science speaks to these concerns, and others, in authoritative overview articles by leading scientists, researchers, and experts. Breadth of understanding, a capacity for synthesis, and depth of knowledge necessary to communicate how Environmental Science began and what it has become animate our effort.

While exploring the origins, traditions, controversies, advancements and methodologies of the science, we augment this with a digital on-line format. A reader can access articles for perspective on topical areas within and across the science that are regularly updated, and linked to associated topics, themes, and resources. Here, both detailed accounts and contextual frameworks inform our work to consolidate the knowledge base that constitutes the science, specifically and broadly.

Because environmental science is relatively young, albeit with deep historical roots, it can seem diffuse and sometimes defined idiosyncratically. We recognize this as an affirmation of the topical expanse offered to us, from the physical and health sciences, to the planning, governance and policy sciences, the social sciences, and engineering. One valuable aspect of a digital, online format is the capability of transcending the differences and subtleties implied by such nomenclature by cross-referencing, and implicit and explicit inter-relationships that can illuminate an issue and its trajectory through time.

To help us ensure quality and representation of reviews and articles, we have assembled a two-tiered system of an Advisory Board of senior scientists with experience across the field with an Editorial Board of active researchers responsible for developing material needed for full coverage.

Specialists and non-specialists who work in the science and in fields related to it will benefit from the articles presented and to come. Educators and students, and other readers, interested in gaining in-depth perspective on environmental issues, will also find what they need. We welcome all of you to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science.

H.H. Shugart, Editor in Chief
W.W. Corcoran Professor of Natural History
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Virginia