The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Ecological Field Experiment

One of the great challenges of our time is to satisfy humanity’s needs while protecting the natural resources and environmental conditions upon which all life – including our own – depends. The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies was created in response to this challenge. The institute seeks sustainable paths that improve both the quality of human life and the quality of the environment in Wisconsin and around the world.

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Named for Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, the institute has been an incubator, laboratory and model of collaborative education, research, and public service for 40 years. Interdisciplinary by design, it gathers the best and brightest from all corners of the university – scientists, engineers, health and legal experts along with economists, historians, ethics 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.

Armed with a diversity of perspectives and expertise, the Nelson Institute tackles local concerns like the health of Madison’s lakes, global issues like climate change, and much in between. It educates students by offering a wide array of courses as well as undergraduate and graduate-level degrees and certificates. It conducts a broad range of interdisciplinary research. It practices the Wisconsin Idea by organizing cooperative programs and public events that benefit the people of the state and beyond.

Special Programs and Funds

  • Nelson Institute Professorship in Water Resources Fund

    This fund, established in the 50th anniversary year of the Nelson Institute’s Water Resource Management Program, provides support for the advancement of research, problem-solving, and stakeholder engagement on issues related to lakes, watersheds, groundwater, rivers, and streams.