In an increasingly interconnected world where local societies depend heavily on globalized systems, the factors that enable us to withstand inevitable disruptions and shift strategies (i.e., adapt) as conditions change are of fundamental importance. This requires an understanding of the basic social and natural science drivers that determine system dynamics. Our work explores the interrelationship between resilience and adaptive capacity. We contribute globally to theory but also work to ensure theoretical understanding is tested and translated in ways that inform action at local and other levels. We also focus heavily on integrating ethical considerations related to poverty and the distribution of power between groups, particularly the most vulnerable, in the application of emerging scientific knowledge.