YIBS Five Year Report
Great universities both empower and constrain the future in the tools they give their students. They are therefore responsible for cultivating graduates who are impassioned yet realistic, and who are attuned to the underlying complexity of environmental challenges. Basic research is no less powerful in shaping society's response to environmental problems, providing the fundamental understandings needed to translate passion into effective action. No other agency has the university's ability to shape both the perceiver and the lens through which a problem is perceived. Through the Institute for Biospheric Studies, Yale University galvanizes its resources to ensure that the observer is acute and the lens is clear.
Leo W. Buss
The search for solutions to the environmental challenges society faces has brought about a re-evaluation of the role of institutions of higher learning. The complex relationships between the earth's ecosystems and the well-being of human and other species require an approach that draws from many academic disciplines in building a new paradigm for solving the most critical environmental challenges through interdisciplinary collaboration.
The Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies was founded in 1991 with an extraordinary gift from Edward P. Bass to build upon the strong foundation of University resources through which Yale would advance understanding of the biosphere and develop relevant approaches to environmental issues of national and global importance. The Institute was established to bring together a community of scholars to capitalize upon the University's strengths in the basic sciences which inform environmental issues; to draw upon the foundation of knowledge embodied in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and in the graduate and professional schools of the University, particularly the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies; and to encourage the reintegration of the magnificent natural history collections of the Peabody Museum into faculty and student research, thus drawing upon the past to inform the present and enlighten the future.
The Institute is succeeding in cultivating a new standard for university-based environmental research and education and has indeed established itself as a catalyst for interdisciplinary collaboration. To date, 92 faculty members from 18 of the University's Schools, Departments, and Faculties have been involved in environmental research through the Institute's research Centers and/or through its two degree-granting undergraduate programs, Studies in the Environment and the Program in Organismal Biology.
In addition to specific advances in research and education, a principal achievement in the Institute's first five years has been to foster a shared vision among multiple academic units. As a result, Yale's considerable intellectual resources continue to be most effectively brought to bear in solving environmental problems.
Among its most notable achievements, the Institute has:
These accomplishments could only be achieved with the strong commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration that is shared among the participating academic units and fully supported by the University administration. The success of these collaborations and the tangible outcomes described in the following sections serve as the foundation from which the Institute will move forward and upon which it will expand in the next five years.