Trustees Approve New School for the Environment at UMass Boston

Office of Communications | February 27, 2013
Two students in UMass Boston's Nantucket Living Lab at work at the Nantucket Field Station.

Two students in UMass Boston's Nantucket Living Lab at work at the Nantucket Field Station.

The University of Massachusetts Boston has taken a major step toward becoming a global leader in environmental research, education, and outreach, with the UMass Board of Trustees’s approval of a new School for the Environment.

The school, which is being developed from the existing Department of Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences (EEOS), will welcome its first undergraduate and graduate class in fall 2013. 

The School for the Environment will incorporate a range of disciplines including physical, chemical, biological and social sciences, business, and human dimensions to generate and apply new knowledge about the quality of our environment and the sustainable use of its resources. In Massachusetts, 27 institutions grant "interdisciplinary" environmental degrees; however, UMass Boston is the only university that provides undergraduate and graduate degrees in environmental science that integrate the science and social science disciplines.

“The School for the Environment will leverage a significant and deep expertise in the environmental sciences and environmental studies fields across the university so we can transform higher education and train a new generation of environmental problem solvers,” said Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley. “There is tremendous potential for UMass Boston to become a global hub for environmental research and education.”

The school’s approval comes a month after the launch of UMass Boston’s new Nantucket Living Lab, a semester-long residential environmental studies program on Nantucket. The School for the Environment will be housed within the College of Science and Mathematics; upon the opening of the Integrated Sciences Complex, a majority of the school’s faculty and programs will move into the new building.

“The University of Massachusetts Boston has a deep and rich tradition in environmental education and research, given our unique location on Boston Harbor,” said Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “This new School for the Environment will significantly enhance our existing programs and allows us to reach our potential as innovation leaders in higher education.”

Since 1982, with the formation of the Environmental Science Program and the establishment of the EEOS department in 2005, coastal and marine environmental sciences have provided a foundation for advancing international-scale research and educational programs at the graduate and undergraduate levels at UMass Boston.

The research of UMass Boston students and faculty has extensively informed the restoration of Boston Harbor, served as the nexus for the development and implementation of the Massachusetts's Coastal Law, and coordinated scientific guidance to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management.

“Environmental issues do not recognize disciplinary or geographic boundaries and do not recognize the boundary between teaching, research, and service,” EEOS Chair Robyn Hannigan said. “Environmental science is about the discovery and application of new knowledge for the development and implementation of sustainable solutions.  This requires not only active scholarship and research but also community engagement, working with decision makers, and training students on the best practices in the field.” 

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s nine colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

Tags: chancellor , eeos , environment , provost , robyn hannigan , school for the environment

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Comments (1)

Posted by Barbara Gookin | March 01, 2013 - 3:24 p.m.

I would love to see you grow the Nantucket program. UMass Boston faculty and students are a welcome addition immersed into the year-round island community. The island is perfectly suited to become a ‘college town’ to offset the summer tourism.