By investing in the next generation of faculty leaders through RISE-EARTH, UW-Madison will be well poised to make even greater contributions to sustainability research, education and problem-solving in the world.

Jennifer L. Mnookin, Chancellor

Reimagining systems

Wisconsin RISE Initiatives allow UW–Madison to attract top scholars at all stages of their careers to bring interdisciplinary perspectives to solving deeply complex problems. RISE-EARTH, which stands for Environment: Adaptation, Resilience, Technology, and Humanity, will strengthen the university’s ability to address challenges and opportunities related to the environment, translating discoveries into tangible benefits at home in Wisconsin and beyond.

RISE-EARTH will focus around two themes. The first is to reimagine economic and environmental systems to, for example, find innovative ways to revitalize communities with new modes of transportation or renew agricultural lands to reduce erosion and enhance biodiversity. The other will be aimed at building sustainable energy and technical systems — for instance, developing new clean energy technologies and ways to capture and store carbon.

“UW–Madison is well known for high-impact research led by our impressive faculty and RISE-EARTH will help bring new thinkers with bold ideas to campus that will help fuel greater interdisciplinary collaborations,” says Provost Charles Isbell. “Challenges like those we face to achieve carbon neutrality, future-proof our economy and prepare tomorrow’s sustainability leaders are best tackled when people across multiple disciplines come together to create solutions.”


We are excited to build on our existing strengths to create new technologies and innovations that we can share with campus, all of Wisconsin and beyond. RISE-EARTH will allow us to build sustainable energy systems and transition to new economic systems while also creating new research and educational opportunities.

Paul Robbins, Dean for the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Investing in a sustainable Wisconsin

Over the next three to five years, RISE-EARTH will accelerate the growth of UW–Madison’s environmental sustainability research, adding up to 40 new campus-funded hires at all levels across the university. New sustainability-focused faculty will join schools, colleges, centers, institutes and other units across campus.

RISE-EARTH also complements a campuswide sustainability initiative Mnookin unveiled earlier this year, setting bold goals for UW–Madison, including changes to campus energy use; ensuring that sustainability is an accessible part of student education; launching a sustainability research hub to support large, interdisciplinary grants and drive innovation; and more. “UW–Madison has long been a leader in responding to community-identified environmental challenges, and in developing solutions to problems that can be put immediately into action,” says Mnookin.

A future-looking initiative with deep roots

RISE-EARTH builds on a long tradition rooted in the Wisconsin Idea. Here at UW–Madison, we’ve always been committed to working across boundaries to innovate, discover and contribute to economic and community development. The initiative positions UW–Madison to further research, create educational opportunities, and make innovations in sustainability that will benefit students, faculty and Wisconsinites across the state.

For decades, researchers at UW–Madison have explored sustainability across a variety of fields, from economics to policy, to chemistry and engineering. The university is a demonstrated leader in sustainable systems innovation. For example, UW–Madison researchers laid the foundation for the study of wildlife ecology, pioneered remote sensing of Earth’s resources, and were some of the first to push business systems to account for problems deep in corporate supply chains.

RISE initiatives are designed to help address complex challenges of particular importance to Wisconsin and the world by building on the strengths that already exist at UW–Madison. Not only do they foster new science that benefits society at large, but they also provide new opportunities for student education. Hiring more faculty in environmental sustainability will help increase and meet our priority goal for every student to have the opportunity for a meaningful sustainability experience here at UW.


RISE-EARTH will help us bring new ideas to students, the state and the world.

Charles Isbell, Provost

RISE-EARTH will ignite creativity and discovery that will produce exciting new educational opportunities for our students as well.

Jennifer L. Mnookin, Chancellor

We are a comprehensive institution that does basic science and translation work to have an impact on the world. RISE reflects that.

John Zumbrunnen, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Vice Provost for Teaching & Learning

Get involved

Join an upcoming Sustainability event

Help identify future RISE Initiatives

Faculty, staff, and students are invited to suggest areas where UW–Madison can make a considerable impact to help solve pressing societal concerns. NetID login required.

If you have any questions about the RISE Initiative, please  send us an email.

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