The Institute on the Environment comes to UMD

 Students bird watching at an IonE event. Photo courtesy of Julie Etterson.

Students bird watching at an IonE event. Photo courtesy of Julie Etterson.

The Institute on the Environment, also known as IonE, has made its way across the University of Minnesota system to reach the Duluth campus.

Headed by Julie Etterson, the UMD campus lead, the program aims to “break down institutional barriers” by offering research opportunities, grants, and various graduate and undergraduate programs all related to sustainability.

Founded 12 years ago, the program was only located on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus until Fall 2018.

According to the IonE website, the mission of the program is “to lead the way toward a future in which people and the environment prosper together.”

“The UMD campus needs interdisciplinary degree in sustainability,such as more undergrad research at freshman level,” Etterson said.  “I strongly believe in interdisciplinary interaction between students.”

 Students at an IonE event. Photo courtesy of Julie Etterson.

Students at an IonE event. Photo courtesy of Julie Etterson.

Interdisciplinarity is a major focus of the program, a “cross-pollination” of interests. IonE strives to engage students and faculty of all backgrounds in their mission. They are promoting sustainability in the broadest sense of the word in order to enable students with an interest in environmental consciousness to partake in various opportunities otherwise not afforded to them in their programs.

Jessica Hellman, the director of IonE, visited UMD on monday, Nov. 12 to join Etterson in giving a presentation on the program.

“We want to provide opportunities for students to be a part of the solution,” Hellman said.

IonE has been operating its own media outlet, Ensia, since 2013. Since launching Ensia, they have published over 500 diverse pieces. According to the IonE website, “Ensia has cultivated a network of more than 50 leading global media outlets — including The Guardian, Business Insider, Scientific American, Public Radio International, Vox and Quartz — that republish content, thus increasing Ensia’s reach and impact.”

Although the program is new to UMD, they have already hosted events, such as the “Land, Sky, Water,” event hosted on Sept. 29. The event was the first one held by IonE in Duluth, and “included a visit to UMD’s Sustainable Agriculture Project farm, Hawk Ridge, and the Blue Heron research vessel,” according to the Swenson College of Science and Engineering website.

In the future, the program is planning events, such as a sustainability mini-conference that will be open to all programs and majors on Dec. 5, and a climate change summit in March 2019.

NewsClare Cade