The Institute on the Environment supports a range of multidisciplinary research initiatives and projects aimed at shaping solutions to challenges at the intersection of society and the environment. Our diverse portfolio includes agriculture and land use, renewable energy, valuing nature, climate adaptation and resilience, sustainable enterprise, and water. While our roots are in academia, partners from business, industry, non-governmental organizations, government and other sectors are integral to all aspects of our work.

Strategic Initiatives

IonE strategic initiatives are multi-year investments that have the potential through research and collaboration to move society closer to solving the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Global Landscapes Initiative

The Global Landscapes Initiative develops solutions for meeting current and future global food needs while sustaining our planet. We do research, collaborate with decision makers in agriculture and the environment, and train future leaders.

Global Water Initiative

The Global Water Initiative studies links between land use change and water resources, bringing together hydrology, plant–water relations, economics and policy to explore the effects of land cover on water availability and use.

Natural Capital Project

The Natural Capital Project develops new approaches to integrating economics and ecology with a focus on how to assess the value of ecosystem goods and services to ensure sustainability while meeting near-term needs.

NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise

The NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise works with the private sector to develop sustainable solutions to production and consumption challenges — reducing adverse impacts and accelerating innovation to meet growing demand for materials and energy.


Formerly Discovery Grants, IonE-funded projects aim to launch cutting-edge research activities with a one-time investment of venture capital funding. We look for projects that will make a major difference in research and discovery. View our project portfolio.

IonE Fellowships

The IonE Fellows program provides flexible funds for scholars to engage in innovative research and problem solving and pursue leadership training. IonE fellowships are open to faculty on all University of Minnesota campuses.

Mini Grants

IonE Mini Grants help spark new initiati es by providing small amounts of funding and space (for meetings, small conferences, new courses, reading groups, etc.) to interdisciplinary groups of faculty, staff and students from across the University system. The grants are meant to encourage collaboration across disciplines, units or campuses at the University of Minnesota.