Academics & Research

Global challenges: our scholarship and practice

The global challenges of our time are complex. Solving them requires dynamic, integrated approaches. As a leading academic institution with commitments to excellence in social science, natural science, and the humanities, Yale is well-positioned to advance innovative, multidisciplinary solutions. Among students and faculty, there is also growing interest in use-based projects and courses, and the University’s leadership has expressed interest in cross-department collaboration.
In support of the University’s objectives to “enrich and enhance teaching, research, learning, and service that explore and contribute to sustainability solutions” and to “act as a convening voice and leader for dialogues about local, national, and global sustainability challenges,” the Office of Sustainability and several partner groups are assessing current scholarly activities and cultivating new activities and collaborations. Highlights include:

Faculty Research

Yale has over 4,400 faculty members and is home to a number of renowned research centers and institutes. Research at Yale pushes the boundaries of knowledge on topics ranging from energy solutions to global health. 

Sustainable Development Goals

Yale Office of Sustainability is actively engaged in activities to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A research project explores how scholarship at Yale’s connects to the SDGs and maps the 4,400+ faculty members to the goals they support. Yale is also working in partnership with the International Alliance of Research Universities to investigate the role of academia in helping advance the SDGs.


Urban@Yale is an initiative aimed at multidisciplinary scholarship and teaching on urban sustainability throughout Yale. It identifies courses and research projects around urban-related issues and promotes activities across disciplines. University participants include a variety of Yale College departments, the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, School of Nursing, School of Architecture, School of Management, School of Public Health, Law School and School of Music. 

Environmental Humanities

Yale Environmental Humanities aims to deepen our understanding of the ways that culture is intertwined with nature. How can humanities disciplines contribute to a broad interdisciplinary conversation about humanity and the fate of the planet? How can the study of environmental topics, in turn, reshape teaching and research in the humanities? What can humanities scholars learn through greater collaboration with social and natural scientists, and what can the sciences learn from the humanities?

Applied Research

There is growing momentum with Yale to create and support institutional pathways for applied research and active learning. Below are several examples of initiatives that enhance sustainability at Yale and beyond:

Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale

The Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale (CITY) has the mission to inspire and support students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to address real-world problems. CITY was launched in Fall 2017, building a new center of gravity to help students, faculty, and alumni collaborate more effectively across disciplines, endeavors, and ways of thinking about the world.

Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies

The Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS) is the umbrella environmental science center on campus. It supports and inspires the environmental community at Yale through research and training, grants and fellowships, and weekly seminars and events. YIBS uses a collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach to study the entire biosphere: from molecules to landscapes, and everything in between. In addition to funding postdoctoral positions and the Edward P. Bass Distinguished Visiting Environmental Scholars Program, YIBS offers graduate student support to the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and to the Yale Departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Environmental Engineering, and Geology & Geophysics. It also provides small grants for research affiliated with a wide range of Yale departments.

Sustainability Enabled Exploration (SEE@Yale)

Sustainability Enabled Exploration, or SEE@Yale, is a platform for publishing and disseminating student research on sustainability. Using EliScholar, a digital publishing platform available through the Yale University Library, it provides a repository for student, staff and faculty research on campus and New Haven area sustainability efforts. This allows students to determine what has already been done on a topic so that they can develop and pursue fresh and additive research projects. 

Experiential Opportunities

In recognition of student interest in transdisciplinary opportunities and learning beyond the classroom, all 6,000+ Yale courses have been reviewed to determine where sustainability content is offered, as well as which departments offer applied research, active learning, and practicum- and project-based courses. In 2018-2019, this will become an online resource that invites collaboration, highlights case studies, and offers opportunities for use-based scholarship.