Wind turbines spin in the middle of water while the sun sets in the background.

The Issue

Ensuring a sustainable future for our planet and the health of the people who live on it, requires a deeper understanding of the limits of the resources that sustain life and the interconnections between people, animals and the Earth system. Sustainability is a complex challenge requiring interdisciplinary research that draws from law, science, communications, business, public health, engineering, policy and other fields of expertise.

CHI Research & Action 

At GW, sustainability is a key priority. Our Sustainable GW initiative, for example, has taken action to divest the university endowment from fossil fuels, achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, eliminate single-use plastics on campus, increase biodiversity and stormwater capture on campus, and ensure all students are offered a sustainability academic credit. 

CHI scientists are committed to understanding and finding innovative solutions that will enable society to protect the resources of the Earth while maintaining a modern level of convenience. Our researchers, for example, constructed a customized water sustainability definition based on interviews with stakeholders about GW’s water sustainability goals. This created a model for other universities to evaluate their daily water use and consider methods to meet these needs in a way that does not deplete natural resources. At the global level, CHI scientists studied the sustainability of cultural changes on the Mongolian Plateau, including declines in nomadic lifestyles, the effects of urban migration, and the fluctuating economic status of those living in the region. These findings can be extended and used to address similar transitions taking place in other countries. 

Additional areas of sustainability research include managing the health impacts of air pollution, sea level rise, earthquakes and extreme precipitation.

Our Experts

Robert Orttung
Associate Research Professor of International Affairs
GW Elliott School of International Affairs

Ginger Allington
Assistant Professor of Geography
GW Columbian College of Arts & Sciences

Peter LaPuma
Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health
GW Milken Institute School of Public Health