Vanessa Schweizer's fundamental training was in Physics, and she holds minors in Mathematics, Philosophy, and Speech Communication. She also holds a Masters in Environmental Studies and a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy. She blends these interdisciplinary interests through her work on scenarios, which are common tools for collective decision-making. In a variety of contexts, collective decision-making includes many processes such as articulating aspirations and values, exercising foresight, confronting uncertainties and risks, and negotiating tradeoffs.
Vanessa's teaching includes coursework on design and problem-solving. Her research focuses on the problem of cross-disciplinary knowledge integration and the design of scenarios for the human dimensions of large-scale environmental change. She also has ongoing projects around problems in long-term decision-making such as forecasting and discontinuities (that is, developments that could be considered "game changing" compared to the status quo). Her recent work has included the influence of occupational, interpersonal, and cultural conflicts on climate change attitudes.