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Institutes and centers

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Institutes create a connective tissue across Stanford University and with external stakeholders. They bring together students, faculty, and staff from across campus to conduct solutions-driven proof-of-concept research.

Stanford has a history of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration through institutes that support teams of researchers focused on challenges that span disciplines. For more than a decade, the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy have inspired collaborations in energy and the environment and engaged with external partners locally and globally. They are now part of SDSS to create an all-campus approach to this type of research.  In the coming years, those institutes will be joined by the new Sustainable Societies Institute. Together, they will fund interdisciplinary scholarship, accelerate hiring of key faculty and staff, support cross-cutting curricula to engage undergraduate and graduate students, and other activities that draw the entire university into sustainability research and education.

Over time, each of the institutes will add initiatives that bring in new faculty hires, provide seed funding for collaborative research, and offer programmatic support.

Woods Institute for the Environment

The mission of the Woods Institute is to produce breakthrough environmental knowledge and solutions that sustain people and planet today and for generations to come. They are working toward a future in which societies meet people’s needs for water, food, health, and other vital services while sustaining the planet.

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Precourt Institute for Energy

The Precourt Institute is focused on creating a world with sustainable, affordable, secure energy for all by concentrating the talents of the university on energy research and education, from basic science and technology to policy and business.

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Sustainable Societies Institute

The new Sustainable Societies Institute will build on the interdisciplinary model exemplified by Woods and Precourt in answering fundamental questions around how we understand, enable, catalyze, and achieve the transformations required to build sustainable societies. It will bring together researchers from diverse disciplines (such as natural science, engineering, social sciences, and humanities) to develop the science of transformation and help drive the needed change. Likewise, the institute’s work will be centered on active engagement of diverse partners—frontline communities, governments, civil society, large corporations—who can help ground efforts in socioeconomic, political, ecological, and cultural realities; identify the questions that need to be answered; and create solutions that work, scale, and are just. Working in communities, cities, and countries—as well as in key global sectors—the institute will address both the holistic questions of societal transformation and the specific levers and actors that can help make it happen. 

Help us launch this institute Learn more about Sustainable Societies Institute plans and progress