Final Report of the Environmental Research Council (ERC)

April 17, 2012

To the members of the MIT community,

I am pleased to accept the final report of the Environmental Research Council (ERC), Implementing the MIT Global Environment Initiative. The report incorporates input received from a forum held December 15, 2011 that presented results of the draft report and the inputs from a subsequent comment period. I thank the ERC and in particular its Chair, Professor Dara Entekhabi, for producing a compelling vision of MIT's role in advancing sustainability and in addressing pressing environmental issues.

I commend the ERC for identifying strategic research themes that transcend disciplinary boundaries and which integrate scientific understanding, engineering solutions, and social research to synthesize new approaches to the world's environmental challenges. The report also describes a portfolio of current and new educational offerings, including a new undergraduate minor in Environment and Sustainability.

The video of the recent forum on Environmental Research can be viewed at and the final ERC report can be accessed here. I have asked Professor John H. Lienhard V and Professor Maria T. Zuber to co-lead a Global Environment Initiative (GEI) planning group to prepare a proposal for execution for consideration by the next administration. They will focus on plans for resource development and coordination of potential future activities across the Institute.

The pressures on vital environmental systems and questions about their sustainability have profound implications for human welfare. The goals outlined in the ERC report define important opportunities for research and education on one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today.


L. Rafael Reif, Provost
Maseeh Professor of Emerging Technology