Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Watch: Commencement Forum features Brown’s Academic Climate Leadership Group

Brown University leaders outlined their comprehensive strategy to coordinate climate change initiatives — emphasizing interdisciplinary research, new faculty roles, and active student and alumni engagement.

Solving the Climate Challenge


How Brown Works Across Disciplines to Create a Sustainable and Equitable Future

Recognizing that separate programs, departments and schools within Brown were researching and studying in-depth climate initiatives, a cohort of University faculty members convened the Academic Climate Leadership Group, whose members meet regularly to evaluate how Brown can make a long-lasting, meaningful impact to combat climate change. The group is comprised of Kim Cobb, director of the Institute at Brown for Environment & Society (IBES); Jeff Colgan, director of the Watson Institute’s Climate Solutions Lab; Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health; Nitin Padture, founding director of the Initiative for Sustainable Energy; and Stephen Porder, associate provost for sustainability. 

“IBES has always been a hub for interdisciplinary research. With these partnerships, we’re able to live out our ambitions more fully,” said Cobb. 

Focused on developing climate solutions, Brown is moving on several fronts, including hiring new faculty for climate and energy policy. “Faculty can be agents of change, but the drivers of change are often students and alumni,” added Colgan. To that end, the University is designing student-facing programs for undergraduate students as well as master’s and doctoral students; engaging University experts across diverse fields to collaborate on cutting-edge research; and fostering a living laboratory through campus-based climate actions. 

In addition, IBES is recruiting its first professor of the practice in sustainable finance and investing and has launched the IBES Alumni & Family Network.

Cobb noted that, having assembled this team of multidisciplinary leaders, “Brown can serve as a catalyst and model for how to get [climate leadership] right in higher education.”