Environment - About

The Environment

icon of trees

The Challenge:

The UO is facing urgent environmental challenges head on. Our students鈥攁nd all of us鈥攆ace a world in dramatic transformation. Climate change and other threats are creating unprecedented ecosystem shifts that already affect communities in tangible ways. And they are forcing even greater challenges for our future.听听

We must respond to immediate environmental crisis, while we work to build more resilient systems able to address the long term consequences of a changed planet. These widespread changes also must address structural racism, economic insecurity, social injustice, and environmental inequities. Much like the ecosystems we鈥檙e working to conserve, our challenge involves diverse elements that interact in a complex, dynamic web.

Addressing the climate crises includes natural sciences, social sciences, economics, law and policy, business, and every other discipline one can imagine. The buildings where we live and work also play a role. So do the ways we travel, create community, and interact with each other. Effective, sustainable solutions must address all of these topics鈥攁nd many more. Discovering and implementing effective solutions also requires listening to voices that have gone unheard for too long.

The Opportunity:

Higher education must play a leadership role in creating a just and livable future. The UO鈥檚 Environment Initiative leverages innovative teaching, learning, and research happening across our campus. It also combines two of our greatest strengths:

  1. Innovative work for the environment
  2. A collaborative, transdisciplinary approach to solving problems

The UO has a long-standing tradition of environmental teaching, research, service, and activism. We have distinctive strengths in the study of environmental protection, clean energy, climate change, environmental hazards, and environmental justice. The university is also known globally for its collaborative culture and interdisciplinary initiatives. On our campus, faculty members from diverse academic areas work together to make new discoveries and solve problems.听听

Our Work:

The Environment Initiative creates a dynamic hub that unites students and faculty members from diverse disciplines, joining with community partners. Through this hub, we鈥檙e teaching, serving, and generating new knowledge and insights.

Efficient, effective, and driven by results, the initiative unites and focuses many different points of excellence at the university that have鈥攗ntil now鈥攂een diffuse. As a whole, the results of this effort will be greater than the sum of its parts.听

This network of innovation promotes and answers questions about the environment. It fosters new approaches for research and education. And it puts solutions to work. As much a clarion call to action as it is a research initiative, this effort will spur pragmatic steps forward that help us conserve the environment and overcome global challenges.听

Our Impact / Our Approach听

Putting Academics to Work听

The Environment Initiative focuses on policy-relevant, data-driven, applied, and translational work. Our students and faculty are helping initiate meaningful, scalable change. Reaching beyond academia, they will collaborate with many different constituencies. Ultimately, this evidence-based work will be relevant to decision makers in government, industry, and the communities we serve.

Helping Communities Adapt and Thrive听

Creative, innovative, relevant, and responsive, our work is leading to meaningful progress that will help society address pressing environmental problems. Through partnerships, the Environment Initiative is exploring how we can best understand the needs of communities and leaders to inspire research and inform teaching. Our work goes beyond our labs and classrooms鈥攁nd out into communities and bioregions throughout Oregon, the Northwest, and the world.

Preparing Students听

The Environment Initiative will help students thrive in an emerging world of environmental challenges, while forging a better one. We鈥檙e creating opportunities for them to participate in groundbreaking research, experiential learning activities, and proactive problem solving. We鈥檙e also helping UO graduates launch careers that reflect鈥攁nd bring to life鈥攖heir aspirations to change the world. This involves more than lofty idealism (though we don鈥檛 discourage that). The initiative helps our graduates make a living while they work for a living planet.听

Amplifying Diverse Voices听

Rooted and focused on issues of equity and environmental justice, this initiative welcomes diverse voices to the conversation. And it amplifies these important voices. This includes working directly with鈥攁nd within鈥攄iverse communities, including Indigenous, Black, Latinx, LGBTQI+, those that are economically insecure, and others.

National ranking of two programs within UO's School of Architecture & Environment
Consecutive years UO's sustainable MBA has been in the Princeton Review's top five Green MBAs
U.S. News and World Report ranking of UO鈥檚 Environmental Law Program

UO researchers working on the environment听
Years since the UO鈥檚 Environmental Studies Program began


Adell Amos, Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law

鈥淭his initiative is our response to the urgency of now. As we promote solutions to help communities address immediate environmental challenges, we鈥檙e also working for a just and livable future. This work is happening through transdisciplinary research, innovative partnerships, and learning opportunities that prepare our graduates to become advocates for change.鈥

鈥擜dell Amos
Clayton R. Hess Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Environment Initiative听

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