Sander van der Leeuw is co-director of the ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, external professor of the Santa Fe Institute and corresponding member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sander had teaching positions in Amsterdam, Leyden, Cambridge and Paris (Sorbonne) before he became founding director of Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change (2003–2011) and dean of its School of Sustainability (2010–2013). From 2003 to 2007 Sander was co-director of the ISCOM project on invention and innovation and held a chair at the Institut Universitaire de France from 2003 to 2008.
Trained as an archeologist and historian, Sander has been specializing in the long-term interactions of humans and their environments. He is a pioneer in the application of the complex adaptive systems (CAS) approach to socio-environmental challenges, technology and innovation. While being coordinator of the ARCHAEOMEDES interdisciplinary research program from 1991 to 2000, Sander used the CAS perspective for the first time on socio-natural interactions and environmental problems in southern Europe.
In 2012, Sander was awarded the title “Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation” by UNEP.