The establishment of the Environmental Institute as an umbrella organization that joins the Environmental Research Center with the Environmental Studies Program will help make WMU a national leader in environmental research, education, and outreach. The Institute, through the Environmental Research Center, will:
Western Michigan University already encompasses a wealth of expertise in areas related to the study of the environment. Recognizing that environmental studies often involve multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary approaches, the Institute will stimulate innovative multidisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary work through the facilitation of collaboration across several disciplines.
Environmental research, after all, is by its nature interdisciplinary. Environmental problems typically involve research in the fields of geography, geophysics, ecology, population biology, and the geological sciences. Other necessary fields of research include chemistry, cell and molecular biology. New environmental technologies stemming from basic science research must be transferred to the public sector through environmental policy, which necessitates work in the social sciences, humanities, and in business.
By offering a new model for linking interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach, the Institute will strengthen greatly the funding efforts of the Environmental Research Center; facilitate and enrich the education and training programs of Environmental Studies Program; and help to focus, coordinate, and strengthen existing and potential outreach efforts.