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Research drives the social and technological innovation needed to confront the challenges of a rapidly changing global environment. The Nelson Institute is a catalyst of imaginative interdisciplinary research that combines skills and knowledge from the humanities, engineering, business and law to the biological, physical, health and social sciences.

Dozens of grant-supported interdisciplinary projects are under way in the Nelson Institute at any given time. Most take place within the institute's four research centers: the Center for Climatic Research; the Center for Culture, History and Environment; the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment; and the Land Tenure Center.

center for climatic research

Center for Climatic Research

CCR conducts disciplinary and interdisciplinary research using observations and earth-system models; integrates knowledge of past, present and future climates to create a holistic understanding of the climate system; and studies physical, ecological and societal impacts of climatic variation and climate change.  more »
center for culture, history, and environment

Center for Culture, History and Environment

Established in 2007, CHE studies environmental and cultural change over the sweep of human history from many perspectives. Its participants, drawn from such disparate fields as anthropology, botany, forestry, geography, history, law, literature and rural sociology, seek to understand human-environment interactions over time and their consequences in public policy, public health, social justice and other cultural realms.  more »
land tenure center

Land Tenure Center

LTC studies links between resource access, poverty and environmental sustainability; identifies governance systems, land planning processes and institutional arrangements favoring sustainability; tests innovative biodiversity conservation strategies; and informs and influences the work of policymakers and practitioners. Established at UW-Madison in 1962, the center became part of the Nelson Institute in 2004.  more »

Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment

SAGE brings together researchers from the natural, health and social sciences, engineering, and other fields to study regional and global problems stemming from interactions between environmental systems, natural resources and human activity. The center also spearheads a National Science Foundation-funded Integrated Graduate Education, Research and Training (IGERT) program in environmental vulnerability and sustainability.  more »