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"A...great opportunity, and a great obligation, is our institutional responsibility to address the challenges of energy and the environment."
MIT President Susan Hockfield (2005 Inaugural Address)

"The goals outlined in the ERC Report define important opportunities for research and education on one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today."
MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif (Letter to the Community, April 17, 2012)


Implementing the MIT Global Environment Initiative
Report of the Environmental Research Council

Why MIT, Why Now?

Humans play an increasingly prominent role in shaping Earth's environment, with profound implications for our welfare and that of future generations. Acting to sustain the environmental systems on which we depend requires understanding how the biosphere works, just as knowledge of human physiology and genetics enables the practive of modern medicine.

This is the challenge to which the MIT Global Environment Initiative will riseintegrating the Institute's core strengths in scientific, engineering and social research to better understand the global environment and manage our role in it through technological and social innovation.

Nighttime electric light illumination across the Earth.

For 150 years and counting, MIT has been committed to generating practical, science-based solutions to the grand challenges facing humanity. Today a trio of pressing new challenges demand the full dedication of our renowned research and education enterprise—human health, energy and the environment With major initiatives well underway in energy and several areas of health science, the time has now come for MIT to organize and formalize its thriving, but dispersed portfolio of environmental engagement into a Global Environment Initiative.

Grounded in the conviction that scientific knowledge must inform how we live on Earth, the Global Environment Initiative (GEI) will invigorate MIT’s vital role as a source of that knowledge, and of the engineering innovations and social strategies for implementing it. The driving question is: How can we enable sustainable human development? Finding answers and putting them to work will be the mission of GEI, which will pursue a broadly integrated agenda of basic and applied research to inform real solutions for the real world.

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