Institute to Expand Carolina's Environmental Programs

Carolina is earmarking $11 million to increase its focus on environmental research, education and engagement. Its launch this week of the UNC Institute for the Environment – formed through expansion of the existing Carolina Environmental Program – is designed to add new degree programs, research sites and outreach initiatives throughout North Carolina.

“We intend for this institute to become the major resource to which the state will turn as it tries to solve problems associated with community design, energy and environment, health and environmental policy,” said Douglas Crawford-Brown, director of the Carolina Environmental Program and head of the new institute, which will be launched April 12.

“The additional resources invested in the new institute will allow us to conduct the fundamental research needed to inform these issues, and to create the institutional infrastructure by which we can engage with the state and bring that research forward to help the people of North Carolina.”

The institute’s four initiatives include:

  • Adding to existing sustainable energy, environment and economic development programs;
  • Creating a center examining landscape change and human health;
  • Establishing a center for sustainable community design; and
  • Broadening UNC’s environmental public service and engagement programs, offering aid to public schools, local and state governments and environmental and community groups in North Carolina.

The institute’s creation is funded by a multi-year, $8 million commitment from UNC with an additional $3 million in gifts from private donors. These commitments include:

  • The Cherokee Distinguished Professorship in sustainable community design;
  • The Michael S. Meldman Distinguished Professorship in conservation;
  • Support from Progress Energy for the institute’s programs in sustainable energy, environment and economic development; and
  • A gift from Tim Toben ’81 of Chapel Hill, vice chair of the institute’s board of visitors.

The institute will maintain the current program’s focus on environmental modeling for policy development; its environmental field site network; and, in cooperation with the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public Health, administration of UNC’s bachelor’s degree programs in environmental science, environmental studies and environmental health science.

The institute will also continue the Carolina Environmental Program’s Carbon Reduction Program (CRed), which led UNC and the town of Chapel Hill to adopt ambitious targets for reducing emissions of gases, such as carbon dioxide, that contribute to global warming. Other notable programs that will be associated with the new institute include research that assists the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with air pollution standards, and work with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to help North Carolina municipalities achieve sustainable community designs.

Share via: