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Research, Education & Civic Engagement


Princeton’s faculty is uniquely positioned to advance research and public discourse on environmental, ecological, social and economic sustainability. Faculty research and teaching — including initiatives that engage the campus as a laboratory for new ideas — will reap exponential environmental benefits that improvements in institutional operations alone cannot hope to achieve. Investments in research and education are arguably the most effective way that Princeton can use its resources to make a global impact. Students involved in sustainability research and other environmental initiatives will be prepared for lives of leadership and active civic engagement in a time when such commitment is critical to achieving a sustainable future.

A dozen Princeton students traveled to the Florida Everglades over spring break 2010 to learn more about efforts to save the area's endangered ecosystem. The students' hands-on research was a key part of the freshman seminar "The Everglades Today and Tomorrow: Global Change and the Impact of Human Activities on the Biosphere."

Primary goals are to broaden interdisciplinary participation in research and problem solving, artistic expression and communications relating to sustainability, to make better connections between faculty and graduate student research and undergraduate education on sustainability, and to increase student research opportunities in this field. Princeton is seeking to develop leaders in sustainability among students, staff and faculty, to expand the discourse about sustainability, and to instill in students an awareness of their responsibilities as global citizens.

Strategies being used to reach these goals include:

Ruthie Schwab

"The Office of Sustainability and its campus programs were a vital part of my Princeton experience. The initiatives I created and participated in during my time on campus ultimately led me to my current work in environmental grantmaking at the Vermont Community Foundation, and tremendously influenced my decision to pursue a career in environmental work. The support and encouragement I felt from the office gave me the confidence I needed to make things happen, and I know I will carry that with me long after graduation."
—Ruthie Schwab '09


Watch "Earth's Last Frontier: The Atmosphere," a video funded by a grant from the High Meadows Foundation. This video is narrated by engineering professor Mark Zondlo, who is working with a team of researchers to map the Earth's atmosphere from pole to pole in search of the most comprehensive picture yet of greenhouse gases and how they affect climate. The video also features Minghui Diao, a graduate student in Zondlo's lab.