In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lake Science Center (USGS-GLSC) and the USGS-Michigan Water Science Center partnered with the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) to conduct a series of four workshops with coastal practitioners and managers across the Great Lakes basin to highlight the need for, and get input on, a Great Lakes regional coastal science strategy. To this end, the "Practitioners' Views of Science Needs for the Great Lakes Coastal Ecosystem" report is intended to help guide USGS coastal and nearshore science priorities, but may also help guide other science agencies. The report's approach starts with identifying desired societal outcomes or ecological conditions, and then inventorying the component ecosystem processes (geomorphic, hydrologic, biological and societal) that necessarily support those desired outcomes. Central to this framework is the notion that ensuring proper function of ecosystem processes underpins maintenance of desired outcomes. The framework further stresses that understanding the coastal zone requires attention to each of two neighboring zones of influence (open lake and watershed), each with distinct ecological processes.