STIRPAT is a coordinated program of research devoted to understanding the dynamic couplings between human systems and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Its theoretical foundations lie in a union between social scientific and ecological lenses. The foundation embeds a recognition of the cycles of causation between these two complex systems where humans' influences on ecosystems at one point in time prefigures future human options. These fundamental ideas are organized theoretically into SHE—Structural Human Ecology.
The word STIRPAT, itself, is an acronym that refers to a statistical and conceptual model for assessing human impacts on the environment at virtually any scale to the analytic strategy testing Structural Human Ecology Theory (SHE). The goal of STIRPAT is to the provide an analytic strategy for testing Structural Human Ecology Theory (SHE).
The STIRPAT approach is used by the STIRPAT research team to pursue a variety of questions in Structural Human Ecology. It has and has been adopted as an analytic strategy by researchers around the world to explore the interactions among the four components. The underlying goal is to identify the primary drivers of environmental harm and to uncover lever points for ameliorating that harm. Thus we hope that STIRPAT both contributes to fundamental understanding of the dynamics of coupled human and natural systems and provides results that help inform societal decision making.
STIRPAT is an acronym with two meanings. One is Stochastic Impacts by Regression on Population, Affluence and Technology. The other is stirp of IPAT.