Discovering Solutions

The Institute on the Environment supports a range of multidisciplinary research initiatives aimed at shaping transformative solutions to challenges at the intersection of society and the environment. Our diverse portfolio includes programs, discovery grants, resident fellowships and mini grants that focus on grand challenges related to energy, food and land use, freshwater, population and development, and whole systems. While our roots are in academia, partners from business, industry, government and other sectors are integral to all aspects of our work.

Energy & Climate

We’re creating the science, technology and policy structures needed to advance renewable energy.

Initiative for Renewable Energy & the Environment (IREE)
Islands in the Sun

Seed Funding:
Resilient Communities Project

Food & Land Use

We’re tackling issues related to land use, deforestation, agriculture and food security from local to global scales.

Global Landscapes Initiative
Natural Capital Project

Seed Funding:
Plant Data Synthesis
Boreal Forest & Community Resilience


We’re dedicated to understanding freshwater resources such as large lakes and rivers in a changing world.

Large Lakes Observatory
River Life Program

Seed Funding:
Global Great Lakes
Mapping Water
Improving Urban Vegetation for Water Quality

Population & Development

We're addressing challenges related to population and development as the planet approaches 9 billion people by mid-century.

Terra Populus

Seed Funding:
Global Health & the Environment
Household Stove Change-Out

Whole Systems

We’re redefining how knowledge is created and used to solve global sustainability challenges through collaborative, stakeholder-driven research.

NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise (NiSE)

Seed Funding:
None at this time

Other Initiatives

In addition to research initiatives, the Institute hosts several programs and grants focusing on engagement and education.

Boreas Leadership Program
Sustainability Education

Seed Funding:
Science on a Sphere