Georgetown University has announced an anonymous $20 million gift to launch the Georgetown Environment Initiative, a multi-campus effort to advance the interdisciplinary study of the environment in relation to society and the stewardship of natural resources.
The gift from a family affiliated with the university will be used to endow three faculty chairs in the sciences and fund interdisciplinary research grants as well as a seminar series on environmental science, research, and policy. The initiative's other priorities include additional scholarship and stipend support for students, curriculum development, and strategic partnerships with other institutions.
Many of Georgetown's schools, centers, and institutes have worked on environmental issues for years, but after environmental and sustainability studies were identified as a university-wide strategic priority in 2009, the university sharpened its focus on inter-departmental faculty collaborations. "The opening of our state-of-the-art new science building and this gift give us the opportunity to become a global leader in this increasingly urgent area," said Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia, referring to Regents Hall, a $100 million teaching and research center housing most of the biology, chemistry, and physics faculty. "Our Jesuit tradition leads us to deeply understand the value of reducing negative effects on the environment and to see environmental justice and sustainability issues from a faith perspective."
"The Georgetown Environment Initiative exists to build capacity for scholarship and education in the environment in the broadest possible sense of the word," added Matthew Hamilton, associate professor of biology and faculty chair of the initiative. "It is an acknowledgement that the well-being of humanity depends on the health of natural systems and that myriad complex factors are involved in sustaining them."