To bring together interdisciplinary scientists to answer questions and enable scientific discovery about our changing world while educating students and the public.
The challenge facing society today is to balance global change and energy, materials and food resources in a sustainable manner at the planetary scale. It is a mission of the President of the United States to bring this issue to the forefront of research at our universities and to infuse research monies into this issue. This issue is also at the core of the UCR 2020 Strategic Plan and as a public university we have an obligation to our citizens to meet this challenge. The University of California has a number of initiatives and programs in global climate and environmental change but none truly envelope the scope of the issue from the necessary geological, paleoclimatic and ecosystem science perspective behind the problem which will enable effective solutions and finally to the education of the public through an integrated outreach program. UCR aims to fill this gap with the EDGE Institute.
The topic of Environmental Dynamics and GeoEcology, encompassing the extraordinarily broad issue of global climate and environmental change, truly requires multiple foci and must be understood on the time scales of social science and engineering-one elective term to two generations, environmental and ecological science-decades to thousands of years since the last Ice Age, as the current predicament developed, and geoscience-millions of years of deep time that record Earth responses to several cycles of change in order to evaluate what is manageable and what may be inevitable.
Using a multidisciplinary approach, the focus of the EDGE Institute is to examine life in a changing environment. In particular, we will focus on the fate of carbon, nutrients and water in time and in space.
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Global climate change is one of the greatest issues facing society today and the need for effective climate change education extends beyond academia. Scientists and educators have a responsibility to make climate science accessible to all Americans, since all Americans will be impacted by the consequences of global climate change. Low-income families and communities of color remain severely underserved in education efforts about global climate change and are the least able to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the consequences of climate change. This disproportionate and unequal impact of the climate crisis on people of color and the poor is known as the ‘climate gap’ and failure to address this gap will ultimately harm all Americans. The EDGE Institute will put a major focus on Outreach and Education along with our research focus.
Graduate Student Education
The strength of any interdisciplinary research focused center lies with the interactions of graduate students with various disciplined faculty members. To this end, a one-day graduate student symposium for students in fields associated with the EDGE Institute will be held in May of 2014 and is co-organized by a graduate student in Earth Sciences and a graduate student in the Center for Conservation Biology. Graduate students from at least 6 departments will present at the symposium.
Graduate classes will be taught next year in various departments to serve as the foundation for graduate students who want an affiliation with this Institute. These include “Ecological Systems in Time and Space”, “Biogeochemical Cycling” “Global Climate Change”.
Integrated Observatory Projects
We aim to use the EDGE Institute to bring various science fields together around a particular question relevant to multiple disciplines so as to focus resources. For example, the Salton Sea has complicated environmental, geological, geochemical, hydrological issues that are of great significance to the state of California (for example, a major potential air pollution issue for Riverside) but also to arid landscapes across the globe. By integrating research resources, we can examine this issue from different fields of study to better analyze the problem and find better solutions.
Multidisciplinary Research Groups
One of the aims of the EDGE Institute is to bring together faculty who use similar approaches to various questions in science. For example, we can imagine a numerical group, an experimental group, a GIS/Remote Sensing Group and an environmental microbiology group. Through the Institute we can build a quorum that otherwise would be too small in individual departments to be competitive for funding for facilities and will facilitate graduate student education and research.
The EDGE Institute will use current facilities to get funding for new and novel laboratory equipment (such as a multi-collector) and to facilitate cross-department use of facilities already on this campus. By sharing labs, the institute can effectively utilize space and money.