Today, the Gund Institute for Environment announced its inaugural research themes – focusing on interactions among four global environmental challenges.
The University of Vermont-wide institute will target environmental issues at the interface of four research themes: climate solutions, health and well-being, sustainable agriculture, and resilient communities.
“Global environmental challenges are deeply connected,” says Taylor Ricketts, Director of the Gund Institute for Environment. “By focusing on interactions among these grand challenges, the Gund Institute will generate powerful research questions, drive innovation, and accelerate solutions for the planet and for people.”
Connecting to global priorities
By design, the new themes echo several Sustainable Development Goals agreed on by the United Nations. This will connect UVM and Gund scholars to a global set of priorities, increasing opportunities for research to impact policy.
All major Gund activities will reflect the themes, including Gund Catalyst Awards (seed grants), Fellows’ and Affiliates’ membership, student and researcher recruitment, and events. For example, the Institute currently seeks 2018 Catalyst Awards proposals for environmental research addressing at least two of the new themes.
Leveraging UVM strengths
Today’s announcement follows a year of campus-wide consultations. More than 250 UVM faculty, leaders, students and staff participated, including the Gund Steering Committee and nearly all Gund Fellows and UVM Affiliates. Consultations involved surveys, events and meetings to identify the strengths and interests of UVM scholars pursuing collaborative research on environmental issues.
“These themes quickly emerged as worldwide challenges that match UVM strengths and can harness the talents of scholars across campus,” says UVM Provost and Senior Vice President David Rosowsky. “Focusing on interactions among urgent issues is central to the Gund Institute’s DNA, and positions UVM to make novel and powerful contributions to global efforts.”
To tackle these themes, Institute scholars will deploy a range of internationally recognized Gund strengths, including ecological economics, ecosystem services, complex systems, remote sensing, renewable energy systems, agroecology, and others.
Achievements and opportunities
Thanks to a $6-million gift, the Gund Institute was re-launched in 2017 with a mandate to select strategic research themes by Year Three to focus its efforts. With today’s announcement, only one year after launch, the Institute has reached that key milestone.
Since last year, the Institute has distributed nearly $250,000 in Catalyst Awards seed grants to UVM research teams, doubled the number of Fellows and Affiliates – which now hail from six UVM colleges and 14 departments, as well as institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge and WWF – and published major studies in top journals.
Gund 2018-19 highlights will include: new Gund Fellows and Affiliates (Sept. 5), Catalyst Award seed grants (Oct. 11 deadline), recruiting for PhD and Postdoctoral positions, the new Leadership for Ecozoic PhD program, and events including The Feverish World symposium (Oct. 20-22), and the 4th annual Gund Research Slam.
The Gund Institute seeks to catalyze environmental research, connect UVM with society’s leaders, and develop real-world solutions to critical issues.