Sustainability and Resiliency


Brown is committed to building knowledge and understanding about global environmental challenges and the actions necessary to preserve the ecosystems upon which human society depends.

Brown recognizes that sustainability challenges will be faced by everyone in the coming decades — all who live and work at Brown, in our city and region, and in the world beyond our campus. The University highlighted this reality by identifying Sustaining Life on Earth as a central academic theme of Brown’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction: A New Plan for Brown, launched in 2014. That commitment has blossomed into an ever-increasing series of educational opportunities around issues of environment and sustainability.

The Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES) is the hub of environmental teaching and research at Brown. It hosts two concentrations, environmental science and environmental studies, with multiple tracks ranging from air and climate to environment and inequality. More than 50 faculty members from departments across campus work at IBES as fellows — from the natural and social sciences, humanities, engineering, public health, entrepreneurship and international affairs. With an understanding that environmental stewardship, human rights and economic well-being are inextricably linked, IBES teaching and research combines study of the natural world with research on human societies.

As Brown is both a research and teaching institution, and also one of the largest employers and landowners in Rhode Island, a key element in the University’s efforts to mitigate human impact on the natural environment is supporting education in our community about the importance of sustainability. This includes not only education and research at the institutional level but also sharing sustainability lessons learned with local, national and international entities working toward similar goals.

Featured Class

Climate Extremes and Human Rights

On New Year's Day, 2023, eleven Brown undergrads and eight Maine School of Law students landed in Geneva, Switzerland for a two week intensive course on climate extremes, human rights, and international law. Co-taught between Amanda Lynch, Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences and Maine Law professor Charles Norchi, a visiting professor at the Watson Institute, the class was there to learn how climate change causes more frequent and extreme weather, why extremes become humanitarian disasters, and what tools in international law can ameliorate their impacts. Students heard from experts at the World Meteorological Organization, UN Disaster Risk Reduction, the High Commissions for Human Rights and for Refugees, the Red Cross, the World Trade Organization, and more. They were invited to observe a conference, opened by the Secretary General Antonio Guterres, addressing the goal of a climate-resilient rebuilding of Pakistan following the disastrous floods of 2022 that killed over 1700 people. Through this unique experience, Brown University students gained invaluable insight into the global implications of climate change, engaged with world leaders contending with the cost of climate devastation, and developed skills to become the next generation of climate change leaders.

Brown researchers draw on diverse perspectives to explore the natural world, the ways in which people all over the world interact with it, and solutions to environmental challenges.
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Brown excels at education that integrates knowledge from diverse fields of study, which is ideal for teaching and learning about the multifaceted environmental challenges facing our world.
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Brown continues to dedicate resources to activities supporting resilience and greenhouse gas reductions in the greater Providence area.
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