Universities from the United States, Switzerland and Japan today announced the formation of a strategic research alliance designed to address the international problem of global sustainability.
The three universities-MIT, the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and University of Tokyo (U-T)-will work together as part of the Alliance for Global Sustainability to develop new technologies and identify policy directions that will encourage economic development while preserving and enhancing the environment.
"A healthy environment and a robust economy are fully compatible," MIT President Charles M. Vest said. "Human societies can conserve energy, minimize waste, purify air and water and protect biodiversity while promoting economic development and equality worldwide. The Alliance will provide objective scientific and policy analysis and provide a forum for establishing the links among nations, businesses and institutions that are required to address the global issues of environmental and industrial sustainability."
"To our knowledge, this is the first large-scale cooperation between three leading universities with a strong commitment to make a substantial contribution for sustainable development," said President Jakob Nuesch of ETH Zurich. "We declare herewith to academia and the larger public that we are willing to take up real world problems and contribute to solutions with practical relevance."
According to President Hiroyuki Yoshikawa of U-T, no single university, nor any one corporate or national body, can adequately address the complex global problems before us. These collaborations will unite corporations, governments and universities from both the industrialized and developing worlds. With the three universities working together with many other organizations on sustainability research, diverse cultural and political perspectives will enhance the work in a way not possible before.
The Alliance will focus on three key areas: ecology and human health, cleaner technological processes, and policy management and economics. The Alliance will address issues such as global climate change, pollution control, resource depletion, future energy technologies and mobility. These issues will be approached from a research standpoint and the results will be brought into the public arena.
Alliance projects span traditional academic disciplines providing new, comprehensive ways of looking at global issues.
The research will be quickly shared with government, industry, public interest groups and other universities through the Alliance membership, conferences and other outreach efforts. The involvement of business and government in the Alliance will assure that evolving concerns affect the direction of the Alliance research.
Students involved in alliance projects will be introduced to the interdisciplinary, collaborative style of problem-solving needed to balance environmental and economic needs.
The three universities have been in the process of forming this alliance for the past year and a half. Research projects for the alliance are already underway and include projects looking at clean energy for China, green design of products and processes, pollution transport and human health.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 25, 1995.