Ongoing Programs

From cultivating social entrepreneurship to quantifying the value of nature's services, IonE programs lead the way in discovering and applying solutions to Earth's most pressing environmental and sustainability challenges.


Acara gives university students a chance to envision and launch successful social businesses. Since 2009, more than 300 students from 20 universities have participated in Acara's programs.

View program description | Acara website

Global Landscapes Initiative

Through the Global Landscapes Initiative (GLI), the Institute on the Environment is working to understand extreme land use changes, to improve our ability to balance human needs with environmental stewardship, and to promote secure landscapes across the globe.

View program description | GLI website

Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment

Since 2003, IREE has been advancing national security and economic and environmental well-being by seeking out the most promising new renewable energy ideas and bringing them to life with support from Xcel Energy ratepayers via the utility's Renewable Development Fund.

View program description | IREE website

Natural Capital Project

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working with Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, several government agencies and other entities to develop new approaches to integrating economics and ecology—with a focus on how to assess the value of ecosystem goods and services.

View program description | Natural Capital website

NorthStar Initiative

The NorthStar Initiative is redefining how knowledge is created and used to solve global sustainability challenges. A key program of the Institute on the Environment, the NorthStar Initiative helps industries, governments and individuals move beyond marginal greening efforts to more meaningful, systemic change.

View program description | NorthStar Initiative website

River Life

River Life uses social media, a digital atlas and case study reports to develop and share knowledge on the science and professional practices that create inclusive, sustainable rivers. We discuss science, planning, engagement, inclusion, sustainability and river issues in a spatial, thoughtful and timely manner.

View program description | River Life website

Sustainability Education

IonE is helping to empower the next generation of sustainability leaders and scholars capable of thinking and interacting across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries by providing administrative support for sustainability undergraduate and graduate education at the U of M.

View program description | Sustainability Minor website

Terra Populus

Funded by an $8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, TerraPop is combining historic census data with global environmental data—including land cover, land use and climate records—into a common database and disseminating it to researchers around the world.

View program description | Terra Populus website

Inactive Programs

Dialogue Earth

Dialogue Earth seeks to increase public understanding on timely issues related to the environment by delivering engaging, trustworthy multimedia content to large, diverse audiences. The vision guiding the project is one of increased shared understanding between the public and experts.

View program description | Dialogue Earth website