This collaborative research project seeks to understand the nature and determinants of long term changes in humanity's competence to deal with global environmental risks. It views that competence as a product of possible interactions among various domestic, state, and international actors: in particular the scientific community, non-governmental organizations, private sector interests, national governments, the media, and international organizations. Changing competence is characterized in terms of the changes in the performance of six management functions: risk assessment, the placing or risks in context, response assessment, strategy formulation, policy implementation, and monitoring/evaluation. The principal theoretical goal of the project is to establish the major processes by which such changes occur, the determinants of those processes, and how both change with time. Special attention is paid to determining the extent to which cumulative learning, as opposed to changing bureaucratic structures, interest configurations, or power alignments, underlies observed changes in management. The principal applied goal is to establish the most important factors constraining cumulative improvements in functional performance, and to characterize policies that might be expected to improve prospects for learning how to manage global environmental risks. These goals are pursued as part of a larger international collaborative effort involving detailed case studies of how 8 countries have dealt with the risks posed by climate change, ozone depletion and acid rain. The work focuses on changing social competencies that have emerged from the interactions of one particularly influential country -- the United States -- with the family of organizations over the last 30 years.