University of Vermont

Envisioning Environment at UVM

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Charge to Work Group


  1. Impressive breadth, but fragmentation. Work in the environment spans the entire University: environmental engineering, environmental science (chemistry, biology, physics, geology), environmental health, environmental economics, environmental education, environmental policy, and sustainability in business to name a few. Yet the study of the environment on campus is fragmented and lacks the visibility it deserves. There is a growing sentiment that we have the potential to achieve far greater excellence, visibility, and impact in the study of the environment through a clear intellectual vision, better coordination, and building on our existing strengths.
  2. Unique moment in our history. We have a new President who has significant experience related to the study of the environment as Provost of one of the world’s major research universities. In addition, during the 2011-12 Strategic Initiatives Project, a committee of deans and faculty developed a report which concluded that certain alternative organizational structures would create greater academic synergy and more logical intellectual communities than we have in our current structure. There is openness in the Senate leadership to considering alternatives.

Charge to Work Group:

  1. Conduct an inventory of environmental education (undergraduate and graduate, including advising and outreach) and research (including applied research through Extension). Develop a list of faculty by college or school whose central research interests relate to the environment. Identify areas of strength and comparative advantage. Interpret “study of the environment” broadly, to include approaches in all disciplines.
  2. Evaluate our current way of organizing education and research on the environment at UVM, using President Sullivan’s criteria where applicable. Assess “best practices” nationally and internationally: how do the universities with the best environment research and education programs organize this activity?
  3. Develop 2-3 feasible proposals for change, including organizational change, that would improve our effectiveness, measured against Pres. Sullivan’s criteria. The group is encouraged to solicit big, transformative ideas from the community. Consult, communicate, and engage the faculty and the deans in your work to find the best ideas.

Please report back to President Sullivan, Provost Knodell, and Senate President Roberts by December 20 2012.

Last modified October 29 2012 10:59 AM

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