A Message from the Dean

Since its founding in 1900, the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) has been at the forefront of environmental science and scholarship, training generations of leaders who have tackled some of the most pressing challenges of their time. Today, we continue to build on this solid foundation by providing research, teaching, and public engagement aimed at creating a more equitable and sustainable world.

Our faculty, students, and alumni are bringing a science-to-solutions focus to tackling the climate crisis and a wide scope of critical environmental issues and engaging in novel cross-disciplinary scholarship and practice in energy policy, ecosystem science and biogeochemistry, hydrology, urban science, green chemistry, and environmental justice, among many other areas. The teaching and study of forestry has been, and remains, a core strength of our School since its founding. The Forest School at YSE is a hub for practitioners and land stewards in forest-related fields worldwide, bringing together innovative, multidisciplinary research and practice to find solutions to the challenges that face the world’s forests. 

Our alumni—who today number more than 5,500—are tackling complex, high-stakes environmental, social, and economic challenges in every corner of the world. They work in NGOs, government, industry, academia, law, public health, and communications, among other sectors. Our highly engaged alumni network is an invaluable resource for students, providing mentorship and support as they prepare to make their own impact in the environmental sphere. 

In the past several years, we have made great progress in expanding our capacity to address global environmental challenges in many areas. In 2022, YSE launched the Three Cairns Climate Program for the Global South, a transformative initiative aimed at supporting the next generation of environmental leaders. Established with a historic gift from the Three Cairns Group, the cornerstone of the program is the Three Cairns Scholars program, which allows YSE to meet 100 percent of the demonstrated tuition need for qualified master’s students from the Global South who are committed to combatting climate change in their home countries and regions. A smaller component of the program, the Three Cairns Fellows program, expands access to YSE’s highly regarded online certificate programs. The gift also will support the development of two new certificate programs—one on urban climate leadership and one on environmental data science for climate solutions, both with a focus on the Global South.

Additionally, the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at YSE is leading a U.N.-backed initiative, the Global Greenchem Innovation and Network Programme, that will greatly accelerate research, development, and training in green chemistry in Indonesia, Jordan, Peru, Serbia, Uganda, and Ukraine. The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication (YPCCC) continues to lead the field in examining and understanding public opinion and behavior about climate change. For example, they partnered with the Irish Environmental Protection Agency to produce maps of Ireland which show how climate change beliefs, risk perceptions, and policy support vary at the county and regional levels in Ireland.

In 2022, two new professors joined the YSE faculty: Sparkle Malone, an expert on disturbance ecology and ecosystem dynamics, and Paulo Brando, an internationally recognized expert in tropical ecosystems. These incredible scholars are emerging leaders in their fields and are enriching the academic experience at our school and across Yale. They joined a renowned group of teachers and scholars that includes the likes of Eli Fenichel, Knobloch Family Professor of Natural Resource Economics, who recently returned to YSE after serving as the assistant director for natural resource economics and accounting in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. There, he led a historic effort to expand the U.S. economic accounting system to better capture the links between nature and the economy. They also are joining faculty such as Liza Comita, professor of tropical forest ecology and co-director of the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, who in 2023 was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of her work in advancing our understanding of tropical forest ecosystems, and Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy Daniel Esty, who is currently working at the World Trade Organization to develop a sustainability agenda for a trading system that better aligns the WTO with the world community’s commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Since its founding, this School has demonstrated the willingness and strength to adapt to the evolving challenges facing our world. I have never felt more confident about how well poised we are to fulfill our mission of providing knowledge and leadership for a sustainable future!

Indy C. Burke
Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. Dean
School of the Environment