The Initiative holds a formal working group competition each year to identify interdisciplinary themes that have emerged from classes, seminars, and research projects throughout the year. Some discretionary funds are also available to assist promising working groups that develop in the course of the year.
Because ECI staff works regularly with faculty from many different disciplines, they are able to quickly identify relevant expertise inside and outside of the University and take on much of the planning and administrative work, freeing faculty and advanced students to concentrate on the intersection of ideas.
- Amazon Cropland Frontiers
- Climate Variability and Change
- Coastal Zones
- Conservation Medicine
In accordance with Brown's university-college philosophy, ECI aims to involve undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows in the pursuit of interdisciplinary research through a variety of opportunities.
Opportunities for Undergraduates
ECI provides an ideal intellectual framework for the development of undergraduate courses and first-year seminars around a variety of interdisciplinary themes. Ongoing activities offer fertile ground for the expansion of possible topics for courses, seminars, Independent Study Projects (ISPs) and Group Independent Study Projects (GISPs). Undergraduate honors theses in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies continually demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary connections for undergraduate research projects. ECI efforts increase the possibilities for such mentored environmental research at the undergraduate level.
Opportunities for Graduate Students
An interdisciplinary graduate seminar, with a different theme selected each semester, is being developed. This seminar would bring high profile global environmental change speakers to campus and facilitate their inclusion into existing departmental seminar series. Possibilities include reserving this seminar as a sabbatical teaching post to attract eminent visiting faculty, or, in the shorter term, having MBL researchers and Brown faculty with complementary expertise team-teach the course.
Space and Research Infrastructure
One of the goals of the Environmental Change Initiative is to provide research space and facilities to promote interdisciplinary interactions. Currently, MacMillan Hall provides state-of-the-art laboratory and teaching space dedicated to environmental sciences, supported by a high-level technical staff. This building includes a remote sensing and GIS image analysis laboratory, an environmental chemistry laboratory, plant growth chambers, research space, and classrooms.
The Plant Environmental Center consists of three research greenhouses, a teaching laboratory, and a Conservatory. A key priority for ECI is the enhancement of existing facilities and expanding analytical capabilities in GIS and remote sensing.