Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

Dean's Update April 19, 2023

Main content start

Dear SDSS Community,

With the Spring Quarter in full swing, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability reaches yet another milestone. I hope you share my excitement as we look to complete our inaugural academic year as a school and prepare to graduate our first class of students. I’m so pleased to share these landmark moments with you, and I look forward to many more to come. 

During my travels across the U.S. and the world, from Washington DC to New Delhi and from Singapore to Davos, I am overwhelmed by the interest people have shown in what we are building at SDSS. The global interest comes at our doorstep too, with visits from Indonesia, Portugal, and many more.

When we launched SDSS, we committed to making a clear and measurable difference in the fight against climate change. Our educational, research, and scholarly efforts are working to make that promise a reality. Last week, we announced the first of our Flagship Destinations. These efforts represent school-wide goals that are ambitious and aspirational, aimed at making impact on a global scale by drawing on the strengths, insights, and innovations from across the school, the university, and beyond. The first Flagship Destination was the outcome of discussions with the Accelerator Faculty Advisory Council and is a strategic endeavor to remove gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere per year. As ambitious as that goal is, it is only the first of what will be many Flagship Destinations as we push to find scalable solutions to sustainability challenges. I invite you to learn more about this work in the Stanford Report story and please submit your ideas for future Flagship Destinations, each of which will draw on the breadth of expertise at Stanford including in policy, technology, natural sciences, social science, and more. Be assured that while we support Flagship Destinations we will also continue to support discovery research through the school and interdisciplinary collaborations through the institutes. 

Along with our first Flagship Destination, there’s much to report about what’s happening at SDSS:

  • Karen Casciotti, professor of Earth System Science and Oceans, has been named as associate dean for space planning at SDSS. She will help lead a broadly collaborative effort to meet the school’s expanding research and teaching needs in the immediate term while likewise planning for the school’s future buildings. Karen had been faculty director of the Earth Systems Program, a role Kabir Peay has recently taken on
  • We were pleased to host Ali Zaidi, national climate advisor to President Joe Biden, who participated in a fireside chat with faculty, students, and staff moderated by Nobel laureate and Stanford faculty member Steven Chu. Mr. Zaidi outlined the recently approved federal investments to fight climate change and spoke powerfully about the impact that climate policy can have on individuals and communities.
  • This month, I also enjoyed meeting with residents at Explore Energy House, Stanford's new academic theme house launched by Residential Education alongside SDSS. Through thoughtful discussion, I experienced firsthand that the theme house presents a truly unique opportunity to explore connections between energy, sustainability, and climate change. I encourage all undergraduates to consider pre-assigning into the Explore Energy House before the May 2 deadline.
  • I also hope you all saw an update on my listening tour with the school community to discuss a variety of matters, including the broad perspectives on our involvement with fossil fuel companies. You will recall that in light of these discussions, President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced a university-wide committee to evaluate a range of approaches to engaging with the energy industry. In February, the members of the committee were announced. They expect to produce a report by the end of this quarter.
  • And once again, I wanted to share our Community Awards page, which celebrates members of the SDSS community who have won honors and awards for their research, teaching, and scholarship. Just this past week, Gretchen Daily and Jorge Ramos were honored by the Ecological Society of America as part of the organization’s annual effort to recognize notable contributions to ecology.

Thank you again for the work you do to make our school a success and to strengthen our impact all around the world. I wish you a healthy and successful remainder of the quarter.


Arun Majumdar
Chester Naramore Dean, Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
Jay Precourt Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Energy Science and Engineering
Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy & Hoover Institution