This page answers common questions about Stanford's new school focused on climate and sustainability. It will be updated when there is new information, and in response to new questions.
Why create the new school?
The school will amplify strengths that exist across different campus units — the ability to foster cross-cutting research and education, engage external partners, hire faculty, admit students, establish curricula, and grant degrees — to create a single entity can accelerate progress in the areas of scholarship that impact what many consider to be humanity’s most urgent challenge.
What has the process of creating the school been up to this point?
The decision to create the new school arose through the Long-Range Vision, with submissions from faculty, students, alumni, and staff.
Read more about the history of the Sustainability Initiative leading up to the new school.
What is the role of the transitional Divisions?
The divisions are transitional structures intended to incubate the new departments. As the new departments reach critical mass, we anticipate that the divisions will be dissolved. We recommend a review of the division structure in 3 years.
What will be the process for determining departments in the Division of Integrated Socio-Environmental Systems?
First, we need to develop a roster of faculty interested in joining that division, including information about their desired level of commitment. Concurrently, we need to ensure that their participation is a win-win for their current units. We also intend to launch cluster hires in disciplinary and interdisciplinary areas within that division. Once we know who is interested in engaging with the division, including through joint teaching, advising and scholarship, we will work with those faculty to establish departments.
Can you tell us more about the accelerator?
The accelerator will support external engagement to develop and scale policy, practice, and technology solutions. We anticipate many teams supported by the accelerator will have started in Woods, Precourt, Stanford Impact Labs, the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence or other units. The accelerator will help ensure that ideas arising from those investments result in solutions in the world. We will be able to share more details once an accelerator director is named.
This accelerator is one four that are part of Stanford's larger goal of speeding the time from knowledge acquisition to application.
Can you tell us more about the initiatives?
The initiatives will draw expertise from across the university, as well as outside partners, around topics that require an interdisciplinary approach. The Woods and Precourt Institutes already have great success building and supporting teams of faculty from across the university. By positioning the initiatives within those institutes, the new school draws on that experience and on existing programs for supporting research. We’ll also have a new institute called Sustainable Societies that will house emerging initiatives focusing on societal aspects of climate and sustainability such as environmental justice, the circular economy, and environmental communications.
When will the Sustainable Societies Institute launch?
We are working on establishing that institute.
When will faculty searches begin?
We expect these searches to begin in fall 2021.
Will the new school include interdisciplinary programs?
The IDPs such as Earth Systems, E-IPER, and Change Leadership for Sustainability have been extremely successful and are popular with students, and interdisciplinary education will be very important for the success of the new school. The new school is assembling a curriculum committee now to begin assessing the needs of the new school and to align the IDPs with the new school areas of scholarship and student needs.
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