Announcing the Earth Commons Institute at Georgetown

February 15, 2022

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community:

I write today to share the exciting news of our launch of the Earth Commons, Georgetown University’s Institute for the Environment & Sustainability. This new Institute, which will focus on research, education, and action, builds on the work of our community over many years to expand and deepen our engagement with the environment.

The Earth Commons Institute will be led by Professor Peter Marra, Ph.D., Laudato Si’ Professor of Biology and the Environment and Professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy. In 2019, Professor Marra joined our community to direct the Georgetown Environment Initiative (GEI), an initiative established in 2012 to catalyze new efforts in research and teaching and promote interdisciplinary collaboration among our many faculty engaged on environmental issues. A faculty advisory committee, charged this past fall, will work alongside Professor Marra in the development of this new Institute.

Over the past two and a half years, working with academic leaders across the University, as director of the GEI, Professor Marra has helped to set new ambitions for our work and impact. New academic programs are in development, including a newly launched Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability Management, a collaboration between the Earth Commons, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and the McDonough School of Business. In the coming years, the Earth Commons envisions collaborating across Georgetown to develop new educational opportunities for graduate, professional, and undergraduate students.

The Earth Commons will seek to build, support, and infuse a focus on the environment and sustainability across our University. It will support faculty research within and across disciplines, develop new partnerships, convene leaders, advance dialogue, and provide opportunities for students to engage in hands-on projects and research, in areas such as environmental justice, climate change and energy transitions, environmental health, food and water security, and biodiversity conservation.

While the Institute will be focused on education, generating research, action, and responses to global environmental issues, it will also enable us to deepen our work on sustainability here at Georgetown, working with our Office of Sustainability, led by our Vice President for Sustainability, Meghan Chapple, who joined us this past August. Over the next few months, the Office of Sustainability will facilitate conversations and engagement in our community on the goals and plans we have for sustainability on our campuses; and together, the Earth Commons and the Office of Sustainability will foster experiential learning opportunities on our campuses.

I hope you will visit the Earth Commons website to learn more about the goals and activities of the Institute and its new student-edited magazine Common Home.

It is with great excitement that we launch this new work, and contribute the knowledge, engagement, and expertise of our community to the urgent environmental challenges facing our world.


John J. DeGioia