About

A Defining Moment and a Unique Capacity

MIT has a long history of advancing important societal priorities by doing the best research, providing the most rigorous education, and collaborating to make a better world.

Global society finds itself at a technological and societal inflection point. We now face challenges of a +400 ppm carbon-loaded atmosphere and the specter of known and unknown environmental transformations. We are also witnessing the possibility of new global resolve on two prominent fronts:  reducing carbon emissions with the COP 21 agreement crafted in Paris, and addressing critical environmental concerns and development priorities with the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The dominant message now coming from every sector of society – government, civil society, industry – is that we need to work together to have any real prospect of forging a promising future.

MIT is a catalyst for game changers, from fundamental scientific breakthroughs to engineering and design innovations to launching companies and entire industries, to calling for humane and lasting societal change. On our campus and in our culture, the boundaries between disciplines are porous. Advancing our understanding of the drivers of and remedies to environmental issues requires contributions not only from science, engineering and technological innovation, but from the full range of fields represented at MIT: the humanities, arts, economics, history, urban planning, management, policy, and more. It is only through a broad perspective that truly effective improvements in our relation with the environment may be achieved. MIT’s exceptional strength in all of these areas is matched by our proficiency, born of long experience, in bridging them.

The Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) channels this unique culture and enormous capacity from across the Institute to create solutions to today’s environmental challenges through diverse activities in education, research, and convening.