1. Home
  2. What to Support
  3. University-wide investments
  4. Environment & Sustainability

Environment & Sustainability

Designing a new Georgetown institute to care for our common home

Georgetown’s commitment to caring for our planet is deeply rooted at the intersection of responsibility, opportunity, and urgency. We are called, in the words of Pope Francis, to “guarantee the protection of the home which we share.” We have a unique combination of resources. And we know the actions of the next decade will dictate our future.

The university’s new Earth Commons Institute will set out to solve the world’s greatest environmental and sustainability challenges by elevating diverse, problem-oriented teams to discover through collaboration and put research into practice. These experts will prepare young leaders across all fields of study to be stewards of a healthier planet. And the Earth Commons will shape Georgetown’s own campuses, as we work to drastically reduce our own environmental impact.

Donor support will make this possible, building the university’s capacity for teaching, research, and service, and realizing Georgetown’s vision for a truly green institution.

pete mara

‘This is an opportunity to move things forward’

Pete Marra, director of the Georgetown Environment Initiative, and Meghan Chapple, the university’s vice president of sustainability, share how the Earth Commons institute will bring together faculty, students, and external partners for maximum impact.

View video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXsGiktpKIw

The Earth Commons

Read about the vision for Georgetown University’s Institute for Environment & Sustainability, and its potential to transform how we think about—and act on—our planet’s most dire challenges.

: https://giving.georgetown.edu/what-to-support/university-wide-investments/environment-sustainability/#prospectus

Building an ecosystem of expertise and action

To fulfill this bold ambition, we must invest in all dimensions of the university’s work related to the environment and sustainability.

  • New courses, degree programs, and partnerships

    By launching new courses and degree programs, we will educate students to understand the environmental impact of their work and advocate for sustainable practices, regardless of their future vocation.

    The Earth Commons will emphasize cross-disciplinary and experiential learning, building on models such as Core Pathways and The CALL, and leveraging partnerships with organizations across D.C. to enhance the student learning experience.

    Seeking to reach 500 students by 2025, we will launch a full suite of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs. Beginning in fall 2022, Georgetown will offer a Master’s of Science-Environment and Sustainability Management (MS-ESM), jointly delivered with the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. Students will rotate through the thematic Commons (see below) during their studies at Georgetown to build a broad foundation in all aspects of caring for our common home.

  • Solutions in service to the world

    The Earth Commons will center around problem-solving, transforming research into policy, policy into law, and law into change on the ground. Interdisciplinary teams of faculty, students, and partners across industries and governments will not only advance research but also pursue solutions to challenges in areas like climate change, food and water security, and sustainability.

    We will offer innovative externships, allowing students to work in environmental organizations both in D.C. and abroad on real-world solutions to complex environmental challenges.

  • A robust research enterprise

    We seek to grow our research enterprise, expanding our faculty, recognizing emerging leaders, and securing additional federal and private funding.

    The institute will organize its teaching and research activities around specific high-impact environmental and sustainability problems. We will pursue project-based work, convening cross-functional teams, pursuing research grants, and producing findings that inform and inspire action.

  • The urban campus of the future

    We will put our experiments and expertise into practice on our own campuses, reimagining what it means to be a truly green institution—in our operations, and in our work of formation and inquiry.

    Georgetown is building the urban campus of the future. We have bold and rigorous sustainability targets: becoming carbon neutral and water positive by 2030, and achieving “100% renewable power” by 2035.

    We also will turn our campuses into laboratories, where students can nurture sustainable living habits, putting their academic studies into practice.

    We will use our campus as a living laboratory for students, faculty, and partners to design and implement sustainability solutions—for instance, developing a sustainable living learning community in our new 55 H Street dormitory and building gardens to support experiential learning and partnerships with food-insecure communities in D.C.

Organizing around major environment and sustainability problems

Georgetown’s Earth Commons Institute will launch with thematic “Commons”—interdisciplinary centers of teaching, research, and service—alongside a campus think tank designed to drive research and impact across the university.

The Commons will enable faculty, students, staff, and external partners to collaborate on shared academic and action-oriented goals related to:

  • Climate & Energy
  • Environmental Justice
  • Sustainability
  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Food & Water Security
  • Environmental Health

Help turn our strong foundation into a greener future

This is a defining moment for the university’s environment and sustainability ambition.

Since 2012, the university-wide Georgetown Environment Initiative has advanced the study of the environment and sustainability at Georgetown. Across our campuses, we have experts in numerous environmental fields—and a dynamic leader in Dr. Pete Marra.

We also have years of momentum, including Georgetown’s divestment from fossil fuels, power purchase agreement, and partnership with ENGIE North America on energy and sustainability.

Philanthropic investment will make it possible for Georgetown’s Earth Commons Institute to do more, faster, and build toward even bigger ambitions.

To learn more or to contribute to these priorities, please contact us at giving@georgetown.edu.