People have been making decisions collectively and deliberatively for thousands of years, and deliberative decision-making processes remain foundational for cultures throughout the world. Much can be learned from deep histories of decision-making and associated cultural practices. Today’s increasingly interconnected world poses uniquely demanding challenges for deliberative processes — how can we begin to understand the choices we need to talk about when the context is so complicated?
Since the 1950s, academics in the emerging fields of theoretical decision science and behavioural psychology began to develop ways of structuring complex decisions to make them more accessible to human beings.
SDM as a field of practice emerged as part of the response to the growing awareness among citizens, scientists  and policy makers, that most of the profound ecological choices we face, although technical in some aspects, involve important value-based judgments and trade-offs and should not be made by technical experts alone.
Rooted in best practices from the decision sciences, and informed by deliberative traditions from many cultures, SDM provides practical tools to realize calls for greater inclusivity, deliberation, transparency and accountability in decision making about interconnected social and ecological systems.