Skip to main content

Research Focus Areas

Connecting research efforts across Pitt's academic schools and centers will help produce a larger impact on Pitt's sustainability research constellation. As outlined below, four research themes are currently in focus, with environmental and climate justice acting as a thread that weaves through them all—and helps guide each research thrust.

Research Themes displayed as chart

Access text version of research themes graphic

Environmental Discourse

A research cluster focused on creative, critical, curatorial, communicative and political dimensions of sustainability research and challenges. Activities fall into five research areas:

  1. Worldviews and Ideologies 
  2. Narrative
  3. Creative Expressions
  4. Power and Politics
  5. Persuasion. 

While these five research areas are interdependent, this sequence reflects the fact that Power, Politics, and Persuasion rely on unstated Worldviews, Ideologies, and Narratives

Lead: Ruth Mostern, Professor of History and World History Center Director, University of Pittsburgh

Resilient Ecological Systems

The Resilient Ecological Systems Initiative is an integrated, cross-cutting effort to coordinate student experience, connect people, and build an understanding of socio-ecological systems through research and education at the University of Pittsburgh.

Co-Lead: Justin Kitzes, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, and Cori Richards-Zawacki, Professor and Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology Director, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh

Regenerative Solutions Respecting Planetary Boundaries

We recognize that our current models of consumption and production are unsustainable. We envision communities that thrive within planetary boundaries while developing and implementing solutions that provide equitable and just opportunities for all. This thrust is dedicated to exploring and promoting regenerative solutions that advance quality of life within the natural limits of planet earth with a specific focus on just energy transitions, water sustainability, and circular materials flows. Through collaboration, innovation, and community engagement, we seek to create a more equitable, sustainable, and regenerative world for current and future generations.

Lead: Götz Veser, Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Thriving Futures in the Face of Regional Change

Pittsburgh and the greater southwest Pennsylvania region are impacted by industry and energy extraction and are crucibles for reducing inequality. Strong translational research with community engagement will forge new advances that allow this region to become a model of thriving communities. 

Thriving Futures in the Face of Regional Change seeks community engaged solutions that leverage the realities of regional change to build sustainable futures. Communities thrive when they define and enact their vision for the future; Pitt can partner with communities to tackle interconnected problems including food insecurity, health disparities, climate change, and economic shifts. Our success is measured by centering the needs and future aspirations of individual communities while creating trans-local partnerships to help the entire region thrive. 

Lead: Tina Ndoh, Associate Professor, Environmental and Occupational Health, and Associate Dean for Public Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh