With the world population projected to increase to 8 billion by 2023 — and to considerably more than that by 2100 — the Institute is purposed to find solutions for the ever-growing demand for food, water, and energy while ensuring a safe, productive, and sustainable environment for all global citizens.
Our three-pronged approach — research, campus sustainability, and education and outreach — was created to do just that. The overarching goal: to become a global model of sustainability by creating effective, positive change.
We want also to be the “front porch” for all sorts of sustainability resources for campus and community members. See our beginning list of resources here. For more about iSEE’s vision and mission, as well as some of its published papers and reports, check out our Mission & Publications page.
The Institute was created to lead an interdisciplinary approach to researching solutions for the world’s pressing sustainability, energy and environmental needs today and tomorrow. We call this “actionable research” — scientific progress with the emphasis on finding real-world, immediately usable answers to these problems.
Our holistic approach to research brings together the brightest of the bright to solve the world’s current and future problems. iSEE shepherds that approach in five distinct themes:
The staff at iSEE also wants to help the U of I campus become a model of sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness for the world to see. In 2008, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign became a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) — pledging itself to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
And so, iSEE teams of faculty, staff and students regularly evaluate campus progress toward the goals laid out in six categories — energy conservation and building standards; energy generation, purchasing and distribution; transportation; purchasing, waste and recycling; agriculture, land use and sequestration; and water — and prepare recommendations on future work to be done. The goal is for campus to be a model of sustainability other communities will emulate.
Education and Outreach
We believe that Illinois ought to prepare students to be leaders in sustainability and the environment and/or leaders by example as good Earth citizens when they leave campus. Thus, iSEE is offering a sustainability minor called the SEE Fellows Program with the help of six campus academic units so that students will be able to learn skills for future employment endeavors. In addition, an undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Writing is being offered.
The Institute’s outreach efforts both near and far will bring together scholars, experts and other people passionate about sustainability, energy, and environment issues to share knowledge and hold conversations that might lead to solutions locally and globally. These efforts include an annual iSEE Congress, in which experts explore a major grand challenge in sustainability.
In December 2013, the University of Illinois launched the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
The Institute, under the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, leads an interdisciplinary approach to researching solutions for the world’s pressing sustainability, energy and environmental needs today and tomorrow. We call this “actionable research” — with the emphasis on finding real-world answers to these problems.
The staff at iSEE also wants to help the U of I campus become a model of sustainability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness for the world to see — and to prepare students to be leaders in these fields and/or leaders by example as good Earth citizens when they leave campus.
The Institute was officially established Dec. 16, 2013, by the University’s Board of Trustees with approval by the Illinois Board of Higher Education, barely a year after the Academic Senate had approved establishment of its predecessor, the Center for a Sustainable Environment (CSE), on Dec. 3, 2012. CSE was a merger of the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) and the Office of Sustainability (OS), both of which did outstanding work in environment and sustainability for our campus.
Work at iSEE is supported by the Alvin H. Baum Family Fund through a generous gift. The Baum Fund previously supported CSE and ECI. In addition, generous donations by Illinois alumnus Stuart L. Levenick and his wife Nancy J. Levenick will help fund research, teaching, and scholarly fellowships in sustainability, energy, and environment. You can read more about the Levenick Fellows Program here.