The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

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Support the University of Wisconsin to help continue the tradition of excellence in teaching, research, and public service.

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The Earth is changing and there’s no going back. Two thirds of the world’s surface has been brought under human use and production. Global temperatures have risen steadily for more than 100 years. By the middle of the century, we will share the planet with 9 billion people, two thirds of whom will live in cities. In the age of such momentous change – “The Anthropocene” – we can either shrink away from the challenges that lie ahead or instead learn to adapt our societies, to mitigate undesirable change, and to imagine new environments and economies.

Named for Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson (former Senator and Governor from Wisconsin), the Nelson Institute has been an incubator, laboratory, and model of collaborative education, research, and public service for over 45 years. Interdisciplinary by design, it gathers the best and brightest from all corners of the university – scientists, engineers, heath and legal experts along with economists, historians, ethicists and political scholars, and more. It also reaches beyond the campus to build partnerships with stakeholders in government, business, the nonprofit sector, and other academic institutions.

The Nelson Institute fosters new environmental citizens:

  • Those who seek not only to conserve the Earth’s last best places but to also create the best new places
  • Those whose source of knowledge and action emerges from outside the walls of the academy, within diverse communities
  • Those who understand that that the environment is at work all around us, even and especially in cities
  • Those with skills drawn not only from the Earth sciences but from the traditions of social science and the humanities: history, ethics, culture.
  • Those who know to integrate business with the environment

The year 2020 will bring two major milestones: the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the 50th anniversary of the Nelson Institute.

With your support, the Nelson Institute will continue to revolutionize environmental studies and practice the Wisconsin Idea to 2020 and beyond. Teaching environmental skills for a changing world, integrating diverse areas of research and discovery, translating complex scholarship into intuitive action, and engaging and starting from public priorities and concerns (such as jobs, food, and justice) benefit not just our students, but the people of the state and the world.

Special Programs and Funds

  • Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Fund

    This fund provides general support for the Nelson Institute’s teaching, research, and public service roles. Funds are also used for faculty, staff, and student recruitment, retention, and morale.

  • Earth Day Event Fund

    The year 2016 will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaylord Nelson’s birth and the 10th anniversary of the Nelson Institute’s Earth Day Conference. We are celebrating both legacies and invite you to do the same.

    The Earth Day conference provides an accessible learning opportunity to the community at large, brings the very best and most current environmental science from UW-Madison to the public, and is one of the largest and most significant Earth Day events in the country. This is the Institute’s signature event.

  • Nelson Institute Academic Programs Fund

    This fund provides general scholarship support for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in one or more of the Nelson Institute’s certificate or degree programs.