The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater's Sustainability Council, which includes at least three faculty members from different departments who conduct research, developed the following definition of sustainability research:
Sustainability is defined by the Bruntland Commission as "the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." This is achieved through a focus on the three key principles of sustainability: environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, and social equity.
Sustainability research can focus on one or more key principles or concepts of sustainability, offer a practical solution to real-world socioeconomic and environmental challenges (such as climate change or poverty), or further our understanding of the interconnectedness of societal and environmental challenges. Sustainability research leads toward solutions that support environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, and/or social equity.
UW-Whitwater provides students with opportunities to pursue sustainability research under the guidance of a faculty or staff mentor. Interested students are encouraged to visit the Undergraduate Research Program to learn more about available grants and fellowships.
Interdisciplinary projects that consider the intersecting roles of diversity and sustainability are particularly encouraged. For example, projects may explore how environmental stressors (such as climate change, fracking, mining, chemical pollutants, etc.) disproportionately impact vulnerable populations or how vulnerable communities are rallying to creatively seek solutions. Such projects may receive additional support (e.g., in the form of increased mentor stipend, research budget, etc.) from the College of Letters and Sciences, pending approval from the Dean and commitment to present project results at the annual Campus Diversity Forum.