Social Science Integration at the Council

A collage of images showing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region from multiple perspectives: land, air, and water.

Integrating the social sciences into environmental management in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta means a better understanding of the people who live, work, and recreate in and around the estuary; how the region impacts their health and well-being; and how their behaviors influence environmental issues. Doing so improves decision-maker's understanding of the complex social-ecological system.

The Delta Stewardship Council has worked to identify opportunities for greater integration of social sciences within the Council’s work and the Delta more broadly. These efforts are responsive to calls for greater interdisciplinary integration from the 2016 Delta Science Enterprise Workshop, the Delta Independent Science Board’s 2017 Review of Research on the Delta as an Evolving Place, and the Council’s 2019 Delta Plan Five-Year Review.

For more information on social science integration efforts, read Social Science Extension Specialist Dr. Jessica Rudnick’s 2021 blog, Understanding People in the Face of Rapid Environmental Change, and open the accordion bars below.

Coordinated by the Council’s Delta Science Program and the UC Davis Coastal and Marine Sciences Institute, the Delta Social Science Task Force was charged with developing a strategic plan to strengthen and integrate social sciences into the science, management, and policy landscape of the Delta. The need for this integration was called for in the 2016 Delta Science Enterprise Workshop in addition to the 2017 Delta ISB’s Review of Research on the Delta as an Evolving Place.

For more information, please contact Rachael Klopfenstein at Rachael.Klopfenstein@deltacouncil.ca.gov.

The purpose of the Bay-Delta Social Science Community of Practice is to bring together social science scholars, practitioners, and allies who are committed to advancing applicable and relevant research on the human dimensions of the San Francisco Bay and Delta (Bay-Delta). This community aims to facilitate collaborative social science research and interdisciplinary investigation, provide opportunities for the social sciences to inform management and policy, and advance our understandings of the estuary as a complex social-ecological system.

For more information, please contact Jessica Rudnick at Jessica.Rudnick@deltacouncil.ca.gov and Rachael Klopfenstein at Rachael.Klopfenstein@deltacouncil.ca.gov.

Efforts to protect, restore, and enhance the Delta should be guided by the best available scientific information about the health of the Delta’s estuary. For decades, scientists in the Delta have monitored the health of the plants, animals, and environmental conditions of the estuary. However, there has been significantly less research focused on human communities in the Delta and people’s livelihoods, well-being, priorities, and concerns. The Delta Residents Survey is a collaborative research effort led by California Sea Grant and California State University, Sacramento, with funding from the Delta Science Program and collaborators from the Bay-Delta Social Science Community of Practice. This effort aims to help address this information gap by developing a pilot household survey to better understand the attitudes, values, experiences, and behaviors of the Delta’s residential communities with respect to the Delta as a place where people live, work, and recreate.

Project Objectives:

  • Develop a better understanding of the rural, suburban, and urban communities in the Delta as they relate to the region’s natural resources, ecosystems, agricultural lands, and cultural resources;
  • Engage the diverse communities across the Delta to participate in the survey to ensure all perspectives are heard; and
  • Pilot-test a surveying research approach that could be reproduced as a long-term study on social well-being in the Delta and used to inform decision-making.

This survey research effort is currently in the planning phase, with the launch of the survey expected in fall 2022. Invitations to participate will be sent via postal mail to all households in the interior Delta and a random sample of households in the urban and suburban Delta, providing personalized links and QR codes to participate in the survey online. Hardcopy surveys will be mailed upon request. Survey results will be analyzed and shared back to respondents, community groups, and others who have an interest in the Delta in early 2023. Results will be posted on this web page as they become available.

If you are interested in getting involved or supporting this effort, we are currently recruiting Delta residents and community members to beta-test the survey draft and provide input. Additionally, we are seeking community partners to spread the word about the effort and encourage their members to respond to the survey.

If interested in the above opportunities or for more information about the Delta Residents’ Opinions Survey, please contact California Sea Grant Social Science Extension Specialist Dr. Jessica Rudnick at jrudnick@ucsd.edu.

The Council has worked to incorporate social science into several recent and ongoing initiatives, described below. These integration efforts stretch across the Delta Science Program, planning and policy activities, and public participation and communication work.