University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
NiSE at the Institute on the Environment

Our Story

NiSE at the Institute on the Environment officially launched in July 2009 within the Institute on the Environment (IonE). IonE has set the stage of discovery to Earth’s most pressing environmental problems by conducting transformative research, developing the next generation of global leaders and building world-changing partnerships.

NiSE is the research program within IonE that delivers systems solutions to sustainability issues and challenges. We operate in network formation, and co-create solutions with our partners. We work with corporations, NGO’s, NFP’s, and government organizations.

The NiSE model is a proven one. In less than two short years, NiSE has built an effective and efficient mechanism to bring together academic researchers and practitioner partners to identify and solve sustainability challenges. Building on three successful consortium meetings and the development of 10 research projects, NiSE is poised to expand upon this groundbreaking collaborative research partnership.

The idea behind NiSE was driven from the efforts to make connections between environmental challenges and the pathways/frameworks for applying science to support sustainable solutions in markets, policy and practice. Valuing the same core principles of sustainability and environmentalism as the Institute on the Environment, NiSE is poised to add research and engagement value through its network access model.

A Brief History of NiSE at the Institute on the Environment

2003-2004: Development of an interdisciplinary curriculum to focus on the scientific, engineering, business and policy interactions of sustainability, in the College for Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), began the impetus for further inquiry. The idea is set in motion for interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

2005-2006: Tim Smith launched the Corporate Environmental Management degree program as a collaboration between the College of Natural Resources (now operating as the College for Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences, CFANS) and the Carlson School of Management. This degree program gave momentum to key actors and created a platform of interest from which to explore a new program concept focused on sustainability.

2007-2008: Funding was secured from CFANS to develop a research center addressing issues of industrial ecology and non-regulatory policies toward sustainability which was called The Center for Sustainable Enterprise Development (CSED).

2009: Formalized partnership with Jon Foley and the Institute on the Environment to house the CSED operations and development of the center’s activities as NiSE took place. The first meeting was assembled and called the NorthStar Consortium, a private sector-focused collaborative charged with identifying and overseeing the development of targeted high-impact sustainability research.

2010: This year represented a continuation of the momentum and important collective work. With ten initiatives underway in  2010, NiSE partners met every six months with the purpose of delivering research results, and listening to stakeholder feedback for the explicit knowledge share of adaption and innovation. Continued engagement and research were the goals for 2010.

2011: The advent of 2011 brought in complementary leadership to build and formalize the structure of the organization. Michelle Linhoff was added to the leadership team focusing on integrating organizational operations, processes, new marketing and communications platforms, and a new financial model as outcomes.

2012: 2012 brought outcome success as seen in the engagement and research efforts. NiSE brought together experts from around the world to collaborate; tripled interest and participation in our annual conference; funded three research initiatives ongoing; inspired a changed vision of what sustainability means to business; supported graduate students, helping them to advance their education with real world research; and gave back to the community through educational seminars, lectures, and conversations freely sharing knowledge and advancing our society by working together.

NiSE is a program of the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment.

Welcome to the NiSE website! Check here for regular updates on events, meetings and information pertaining to our current work.

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