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Dean’s Update June 15, 2023

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Dear Colleagues:

Thank you for making the first official year of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability such a tremendous success. It took years of planning and effort to launch the school and lay the foundation for our first year. Thanks to your work and commitment, this inaugural year will play a critical role in defining our school and serve as an inflection point in Stanford’s commitment to realize high impact solutions and innovations in sustainability.

Even beyond the formal launch of the school, it has been a year of landmark achievements. We have a new Oceans Department along with approval for a Ph.D. program in oceans. We’ve embarked on a highly ambitious faculty hiring initiative that looks to increase the size of our faculty by 50 percent over the next decade. We’re expanding access to sustainability education far beyond our own school with a new graduate certificate set to start in fall, and we’re building capacity to globally expand access to our courses. With our sights set on global impact, we announced our first Flagship Destination and will soon roll out a grant program to support discovery research across the school. We’ve added new programs — like the Stanford Ecopreneurship Program — and built our standing as a recognized convener across fields in sustainability, including environmental justice and clean energy innovation. And in just a matter of days, we’ll add yet another milestone as we honor the first class of graduates from SDSS at Commencement. All told, we have much to celebrate together. Thank you for all your work in helping SDSS live up to our mission.

I also want to take this opportunity to share a few important updates:

  • Last week, we announced the membership of the SDSS Advisory Council. You can read more about the Council and their role at SDSS in Stanford Report.
  • At last month’s Faculty Forum, we decided to forgo the usual faculty presentations in order for school leadership to provide progress reports in their areas of purview as well as lay out short- and long-term plans. I invite you to view video recordings of the presentations.
  • Also last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a student-led dialogue as part of our ongoing discussion on funding for energy research. It was a tremendously productive conversation. I want to express gratitude to all those who participated and let you know how inspired I was by our interactions.
  • As usual, I like to share our Community Awards page, which documents the breadth of honors and awards members of the SDSS community have received for their research, teaching, and scholarship. Among the accolades received this year are three members of our faculty being elected to National Academies: Tony Kovscek to the National Academy of Engineering and Barbara Block and David Lobell to the National Academy of Sciences.

As we look to the next academic year, I am excited to share that we’ll be holding a special symposium in November to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the school. By using our influence as a convener, we will host a series of keynote talks and panel discussions while providing several opportunities for engagement, discussion, and networking. I ask that you save the afternoon of Nov. 7 and all day on Nov. 8 for this special event. To make this a truly SDSS community event, I’m asking for your input on which speakers we should invite. Please also consider inviting your key partners to attend the Symposium by sharing their names.

Thank you again for your efforts to make SDSS a success. I wish you a successful remainder of the academic term and a healthy and safe summer. 


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