Our Research Lab Is Planet Earth

Research within Environmental & Sustainability Studies (ESS) investigates ways to strike a harmonious balance between improving the quality of life and honoring humankind’s responsibility to natural resources.

ESS faculty members are active in various research focus areas.

Environmental Sciences & Engineering

Professors Fred Looft, Lauren Matthews, Jeanine PlummerReeta Prusty Rao

Enhancing the quality of life by applying scientific and engineering principles to the natural environment is at the heart of this research. We study ways to improve air and water quality, manage waste in its various forms, improve crop yields, develop better consumer products, and make more efficient use of resources.

Environmental Philosophy and History

Professors Constance ClarkRoger Gottlieb, Thomas B. Robertson, John Sanbonmatsu

At the intersection of human interaction and the natural environment is environmental philosophy and history. Students investigate how relationships between people and nature are defined, examine the question of moral obligation, explore the value of resources within societies, and consider the rights of non-humans.

Sustainability Studies

Professors Laureen ElgertRob Krueger, Khalid Saeed

The study of environmental, economic, and social concerns facing people locally, regionally, and globally is what makes up sustainability studies. In this interdisciplinary research area, students examine the emphasis each of these concerns receives—and analyze the implications of how that emphasis is distributed among the three.

Environmental Politics

Professors Laureen Elgert, Roger S. Gottlieb, Rob Krueger, John Sanbonmatsu, Ingrid Shockey

The ongoing relationships between political, economic, and social factors shape environmental concerns. Within this framework of environmental politics, researchers explore how local communities, scientists, and other groups with socioeconomic interests make decisions about consuming the natural environment in the context of political, economic, and social demands.

Applying Knowledge to Solve Environmental Issues

In WPI’s Environmental & Sustainability Studies (ESS) Program, a student’s research facilities are anywhere environmental issues need to be addressed. And today, that’s just about everywhere around the globe—in a river, in a remote village, in a city, or on a construction site overrun with industry.

With a hands-on interdisciplinary foundation, ESS students apply their scientific and technical knowledge early on to local and international communities to study air, water, and solid waste pollution. They then combine that knowledge with their sociopolitical savvy to engage in community issues that solve environmental problems and promote ongoing sustainability.