Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


Document Number

Working Paper 2016-02


Despite the growing need for an improved understanding of complex relationships among interacting systems, critical air, water, energy and socio-economic system research is carried out independently far too often. When it is comprehensively approached within integrated modeling environments, research teams often must recreate modeling foundations on which to base their own research, often because they are unable to access similar foundations already established by others. Moreover, there is an increasing awareness that energy, water, and environmental issues are best studied at the regional level, and many of the most relevant human-environmental interactions are tied to production and consumption technologies that themselves are tightly bound to regional economic systems that comprise national economies. We need to integrate and model these interacting systems comprehensively, and in an open access environment that promotes interaction among scholars, and database and model sharing to eliminate wasteful and redundant foundation infrastructure building. The pace of new knowledge development can be advanced radically by adopting a common and well-tested integrated systems modeling approach for widespread scientific use and development, supporting a research community that spans a wide range of problem domains.

The future of regional science research thus lies in the integrated and comprehensive modeling of interacting systems. This paper describes our vision of this open science future, which we believe will rest on an open source and object-oriented foundation. We describe OASIS, a specific exemplar project now underway designed to fill the current integrated systems science infrastructure void with a framework whose evolutionary character will ultimately reflect the conceptual strengths and contributions of a large community of scholars. The result will be distinguished not only by the collective wisdom of the modeling community, but also by careful attention to the mechanisms that support replication and reproducibility. With the advantage of 21st century technology, object oriented open source open science will deepen our understanding and radically accelerate the pace of knowledge building in coming decades. We see this as a fundamentally new knowledge building paradigm that will dominate future integrated systems research.