As the state of Rhode Island’s flagship research institution, sustainability is a topic of great interest to the dozens of faculty here who are helping to solve the most critical environmental issues for the New England region, and for the world. The University of Rhode Island is a Land Grant and Sea Grant institution, meaning that the University is granted land by the government which it can use to conduct research and educate future researchers, and is involved with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in marine conservation research. As an institution conducting work that is greatly involved with the environment, it is a priority to conduct sustainability research. This page will highlight the efforts that the University has made to elevate the profile of sustainability research in an academic setting.
Increasing Environmental Literacy
In order to increase the amount of research we conduct on campus, students are engaged with faculty who will help them acquire the necessary skills early in their academic careers. The University of Rhode Island has extensive and successful environmental science programs already in place, specifically, curricula in the natural sciences, environmental and natural resource economics, oceanography, ocean engineering and marine affairs. A majority of graduate programs fall into these categories, but other undergraduate programs cover a wide variety of educational focus which often are related to sustainability, such as the newly-created Green Business double major.
One of the challenges of increasing sustainability research is encouraging undergraduate students, who are not enrolled in any of the “traditional” science programs, to concentrate on sustainability issues, mainly through interdisciplinary studies. The University has created a sustainability minor, introduced the Grand Challenges program which focuses on bringing real global issues into undergraduate classrooms, and introduced new graduate programs like the Blue MBA that prepare graduate students to develop business models with sustainability in mind.
There is also a leadership workshop supported by the Office of the Provost, Infusing Sustainability into the Curriculum, that informs faculty and staff of ways to complement their current curricula with sustainability topics and ways to engage students with issues of global importance. Modeled after Emory University’s Piedmont Project, the workshop provides an innovative approach that has been intellectually stimulating and collegial for the faculty. More information about the workshop can be found here.
Increasing Research Opportunities
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in the move to increase sustainability research on campus is defining and identifying these kinds of research opportunities for the students and staff who want to study the links between the local campus community and global sustainability issues. By turning our focus to sustainability research, we can attract new researchers and promote future research to both students and staff. Currently, there are initiatives in place that can help to fulfill this goal; the Office of The Vice President for Research and Economic Development has supported start-up grants for new research initiatives in the past, and the URI Transportation Center provides an opportunity at the graduate and undergraduate levels alike to further research on sustainable transportation.
URI Sustainability Researchers
The list below contains a list of URI faculty known to be conducting sustainability research. Note that this is not an exhaustive list of all faculty at URI who are conducting research. We are working with the Research Office to produce a more accurate inventory. Any faculty currently conducting research or thinking about starting research should contact the Sustainability Office.
|Aaron Bradshaw||Civil & Environmental Engineering|
|Vinka Craver||Civil & Environmental Engineering|
|Brian Crawford||Coastal Resources Center|
|Tracey Dalton||Marine Affairs|
|Arthur Gold||Natural Resources Science|
|Marta Gomez-Chiarri||Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science|
|Annette Grilli||Ocean Engineering|
|Thomas Husband||Natural Resources Science|
|Albert Kausch||Cell & Molecular Biology|
|Dorothy Kellogg||Coastal Institute|
|Jason Kolbe||Biological Sciences|
|Najih Lazar||Fisheries, Animal & Veterinary Science|
|K. Wayne Lee||Civil & Environmental Engineering|
|Jennifer McCann||Coastal Resources Center|
|Laura Myerson||Natural Resources Science|
|Serena Moseman-Valtierra||Biological Sciences|
|Pam Rubinoff||Coastal Resources Center|
|Gail Scowcroft||Office of Marine Programs, GSO|
|Rodrigue Spinette||Cell & Molecular Biology|
|Thomas Sproul||Environmental & Natural Resource Economics|
|Judith Swift||Coastal Institute|
|Elin Torell||Coastal Resources Center|
|Yeqiao Wang||Natural Resources Science|
|Yinjiao Ye||Communication Studies|