What We Think
Our chief concern is with learning to creatively manage change.
Climate change, population growth (and shrinking), and economic disaster are only the biggest issues we face when it comes to dealing with change, and they can be found everywhere in the world. How we plan for, measure, adapt to, and prevent change will define our future. Perhaps more truthfully our future will be defined by whether we choose to take those issues on in advance or only after they have caused enough damage that they can no longer be ignored. We feel that rather than simply reacting to problems as they come up it is better to tackle them directly in the most creative ways possible.
Breaking down the barriers between disciplines is an important step towards making that vision possible. Creativity can of courese come from individuals working in their own field exclusively, but we feel that for these particular problems the best solutions will come from people who understand more than one discipline, and know how to make use of knowledge and expertise beyond their own. The problems are thematic and seldom fit into simple containers, and the solutions won’t either. If we are going to find those solutions we will need to be flexible and open to outside ideas, driven by our own passions but aware enough to make use of the passions of others.
What We Do
The Environmental Innovators program is a graduate school designed around project based education.
Our students include climate scientists, policy makers, architects and urban planners, social entrepreneurs and business majors. With project based education, our students work with professors in both the classroom and in the field in order to practice what they are learning with real people and help them to solve real problems. Our ambition is to create an environment where both students and teachers are all learning and working to affect change together.
Projects are undertaken by students on their own and with professors in a group as a way to test ideas developed in the classroom. In the process of working on these projects students learn how to make plans that span the gap from concept to implementation, how to work with communities, and how to organize their efforts to be efficient and to obtain useful results. Although we work within a university setting, and expect academic rigor, the outcome of projects is not fixed. It can be scientific research, a policy report, a building, a business plan (or an actual business), or something entirely new.
Our students are interested in taking on projects that have the potential to have a social impact. The challenge is to undertake work that balances both public and private interests. Environmental and social problems can be tackled with the tools of economics and business as much as with sociology and design, and it is not always clear which solutions will lead to the result we are looking for, which is why the projects are essential to the education process. Our ultimate goal is to find solutions that can be scaled upwards, so the impact can move beyond a single community or a single house, and become a model for regions and for nations. Learning what steps are necessary and what skills and barriers need to be managed in order to take that step is a central pillar of our educational goals. In the end our expectation is that our graduates will go on to become leaders and innovators.
We welcome students to apply from any background to take on projects in the fields of environmental policy, environmental science, low carbon society, environmental business, architecture and planning, and communications technology. If you have a project you want to take on and an ambition to see it carried out, we invite you to apply to the program and get started!