IonE Strategic plan | 2024-2029

A split image. The left side is a dense green forest with fog. The right side is a pile of branded Institute on the Environment round buttons.


The environmental challenges our world faces are not only urgent, they are also vast and complex – and they will not be solved by any one discipline or sector working alone.

Public universities have critical strengths to contribute, if they can be integrated across disciplines and work in partnership with the broader world. Since 2007, the Institute on the Environment has accelerated this connectivity and capacity at the University of Minnesota, demonstrating its impact and earning its reputation as an innovator and leader among peer institutions.

Every day, we work to catalyze sustainability outcomes – driving environmental impact through community-engaged research, public-interest communications, and innovative leadership and professional development offerings. We are a boundary-spanning, externally oriented organization, explicitly charged with forging connections across and beyond the University of Minnesota – on a local, regional, and global scale.

This new strategic plan articulates the mission, vision, values, guiding goals, and core strategies for the next five-year chapter of IonE. It will guide programs and operations, as well as our engagement with and service to the University community and our partners across the state, region, and world.

Explore our mission, vision, values, and five-year priorities on this website – or access the full-length PDF below.

2024–29 Plan Highlights

In developing this plan, we did a year-long evaluation of IonE’s first-ever strategic plan (2019), inviting our network of affiliated faculty, researchers, and practitioners; our staff and our project and program partners; our advisory boards and councils; and other trusted advisors to reflect on the achievements under that plan, the ambitions that remained, how the world (including higher ed) has changed – and, critically, what is needed now.

Plan highlights include:

  • The next evolution of our IonE Impact Goals platform, expanding access to our catalytic grantmaking program and diversifying the domains in which IonE will fund and steward outcomes-driven projects
  • Discussion of IonE’s DEIJ action plan, which will be implemented in conjunction with this plan, as the Institute strives to advance a just, sustainable transition for all
  • IonE’s ambitions in the emerging field of public interest communications – which combines  the best of strategic and science communication, journalism, and storytelling in service of outcomes that transcend the interests of any one organization or individual
  • Clarified definitions of “community” for IonE that embrace a broad meaning of interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and co-production
  • An enduring mission and vision – our overarching commitment to – and focus on – building a future where people and planet prosper together