Funding Priority

Our Mission

Research: To strengthen our cross-campus environmental research capacity by supporting a multi-disciplinary community of scholars that enhances collaboration, increases sharing of knowledge, and identifies solutions to the world’s critical environmental problems. Education: To work in partnership across UNC and with external partners to coordinate and deliver 21st century educational programs that provide students with the experience and skills to thrive in a growing global economy. Outreach: To engage and serve communities in North Carolina and around the world by putting new environmental knowledge into action.

UNC Institute for the Environment

    A World Without Water Is An Unlivable World

    Water is scarce in many places around the world, and even primary water sources in the U.S. are becoming insufficient. Less water equals less food, less energy and less sanitation; a frightening scenario that Carolina is working to prevent. The UNC Institute for the Environment is leading the way in watershed science, a field that specializes in the production of clean water to alleviate this challenge for society.

    A pan-University team led by Dr. Greg Characklis who directs a environmental financial risk center co-funded by the institute and the Gillings School of Public Health, examines the interdependence of the systems that supply food, energy and water, particularly in times of scarcity. Dr. Characklis is conducting the study in California, a state that, despite widespread droughts, continues to lead the nation in agricultural production. The data gathered in the study will ultimately benefit states and regions that suffer from drought.

    Dr. Characklis is globally recognized as a leader in creating new ways to improve water supply and treatment systems.

    “The human and natural systems that provide society with food, energy and water are tightly linked, so a disruption in one invariably impacts the others,” Dr. Characklis said. “This research will provide us an opportunity to develop an improved understanding of these systems and ultimately develop innovative management strategies using tools from science, engineering and economics.”


    More Institute for the Environment Funding Priorities

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    Experiential Education for Future Environmental Leaders

    “This generous gift allows us to invest in the next generation of leaders in the environmental realm by funding transformational professional experiences for Carolina undergraduates,” says Michael Piehler, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment.


    Taking Environmental Studies to New Heights

    “Michael Piehler’s childhood inspired him to pursue his life’s work in restoring ecosystems in need.”


    Living Shorelines

    For coastal homeowners, hurricane season is often a stressful time.


    Teachers ExPLORE NC 

    This opportunity to apply knowledge and skills in new settings, with a supportive peer network, is a large part of what makes ExPLORE NC such a robust and helpful program.


    Innovation for a Sustainable Future

    “When we think about the future, we have to think about clean technology."


    Sites Set on Education

    “I wanted an opportunity to get more hands-on experience and physical involvement in what I’m learning in a typical classroom setting."