In April 1997 a group of social scientists in Germany came together to form a task force on institutional dimensions of global environmental change. At the time they were all engaged in research projects funded by the German Re- search Council (DFG) within its Priority Programme 'Glob... al Environmental Change - Social and Behavioural Dimensions'. Coming initially from the fields of political science and sociology they were motivated by a common interest in advancing knowledge on processes of institutional change relevant to major environmental problems. By exploring the capacity of diverse disci- plinary approaches to explain institutional change and by exchanging knowl- edge on environmental institutions in various social, cultural and political settings they aimed to shed fresh light on the complex dynamics of institu- tions. By 1999 the task force had grown in numbers and scope to include geographers, cultural anthropologists and cultural psychologists, reflecting a unique and broad spectrum of social science research into institutions and the environment. The new members brought not only new disciplinary perspec- tives to the group, but also an interest in a wider range of institutions func- tioning at different societal levels and in new cultural settings, including de- veloping countries. This book is the principal product of the task force.
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