Stanford University is honing in on climate and sustainability issues at its new school that is dedicated to the environmental sciences and is set to open next year. This week, Stanford leaders previewed the academic departments that will be housed in the new school, which will be the university's first in 70 years.
"Stanford is taking the historic step of creating the university's first new school in 70 years in response to the scale and urgency of threats facing our planet," Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in an announcement issued Thursday. "With our faculty aligned in these new divisions, and with cross-cutting themes and an accelerator integrating expertise from the entire university to drive solutions, we will marshal our resources to serve humanity's top priority, which is to create a future in which all humans and natural systems can thrive together in concert and in perpetuity."
Taking recommendations made by the faculty Blueprint Advisory Committee, the new school will house several existing academic departments and research institutes, including the university's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; the Stanford Woods Institute for Environment; the Precourt Institute for Energy; the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Hopkins Marine Station.
The departments will be grouped into four divisions: division of earth and planetary sciences; division of engineering for sustainability; division of climate, environment and biodiversity; and division of integrated socioenvironmental systems.
The academic shape of the school was formed based on faculty input and town halls and student surveys conducted by a nine-member student group, according to the university news release.
In the polling of faculty members, responses showed strong support for departments that included "climate, energy, oceans and engineering for sustainability and multiple departments focused on natural and human elements of sustainability," the announcement stated.
By also merging research hubs such as the Woods and Precourt institutes, the university aims to introduce academic themes such as environmental justice, sustainable urban development and environmental communications.
"The new school will be a home for a university-wide emphasis on sustainability research," Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute and professor of biology and of Earth system science, said in the announcement. "The sustainability of the planet affects all of us, and will require people from all backgrounds working together to create solutions."
The yet-to-be-named school also will be a vehicle for creating policy and technology solutions focused on sustainability through what the university calls a Sustainability Accelerator.
The university is currently searching for a dean to lead the new school. In the meantime, Kathryn Moler, vice provost and dean of research, and Stephan Graham, the dean of the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, have led the academic design of the new school, while 13 faculty members lead the search committee for a new dean.
Students will be accepted into the school in the 2022-23 academic year.