Human actions are altering the terrestrial environment at unprecedented rates, magnitudes, and spatial scales. Landcover change stemming from human land uses represents a major source and a major element of global environmental change. Not only are the global-level data on landuse and land-cover change relatively poor, but we need a much better understanding of the underlying driving forces for these changes. Many forces have been proposed as significant, but single-factor explanations of land transformation have proved to be inadequate. How the human causes interact, and under what circumstances each is important, are questions needing systematic research. An international and interdisciplinary agenda is currently being developed to address these issues, through several closelyconnected foci of study. A division of the world according to common situations of environment, human driving forces, and land-cover dynamics will be followed by detailed study of the processes at work within each situation. The results will form the basis for a concurrent effort to develop a global land model that can offer projections of patterns of land transformation.