History of the Academy for the Environment



The University of Nevada, Reno has a long history of both departmentally-based and campus-wide interdisciplinary environmental programs. There also have been several efforts in the past that have tried to foster and coordinate greater interaction among faculty and staff interested in environmental issues.

In the 1990s, two university centers were created to promote greater activity in this arena at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE) 

The Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE) at the University of Nevada, Reno was created in 1992 with the help of a large grant by Sierra Pacific Resources. It was designed to prepare scientists and engineers for careers in the expanding areas dealing with environmental processes and quality, and to stimulate solutions to the environmental problems of Nevada, the American Southwest and the world. 

Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities (CEAH) 

The Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities (CEAH) was established in July 1995 in recognition of the central place of the fine arts and humanistic scholarly disciplines in exploring the meaning of the natural environment for human culture and the impact humans exert on the larger planet. The Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities brought together a group of distinguished scholars and teachers from such fields as literature, photography, philosophy, history, geography and anthropology to illuminate the important ways in which nature permeates our imaginative lives and our cultural aesthetic.

Proposal for New Institute

In order to establish a greater commitment to interdisciplinary environmental programs, a self-organized group of faculty promoted the establishment of a university-wide environmental institute in 2003. A proposal to create the Academy for the Environment (UNAE) was submitted for review to the Faculty Senate. Under this proposal, the CESE and the CEAH merged under the umbrella of the new Academy for the Environment. 

This proposal was unanimously endorsed by the Faculty Senate on April 22, 2004 (Earth Day) and subsequently approved by the Board of Regents on June 3, 2004. In June 2006, following a national search, Michael Collopy was selected as the founding director of the Academy for the Environment. The Academy was designed to be an interdisciplinary institute, whose mission is to develop, enhance and coordinate environmental teaching, research and service at the University of Nevada, Reno. The Academy helps to:  

  • develop innovative courses 
  • provide cross-college connections related to the environment 
  • support the development of interdisciplinary programs in environmental studies 
  • link the environmental programs of sciences/engineering with those in the arts/humanities 
  • enhance and expand research/scholarship opportunities for environmental faculty 
  • conduct collaborative public outreach activities on the environment 
  • raise the environmental awareness of the campus 
  • promote environmentally-related programs at the University 


The Academy has worked with campus leaders to support interdisciplinary environmental research, in keeping with the University's 2009-2015 Strategic Plan to create an environmentally sustainable Nevada. Given its new research focus, Academy for the Environment now reports to Research & Innovation. 


Location: 201 Ross Hall 
Mail Stop 0403 

Mailing Address: 
University of Nevada, Reno/MS 0403 
Reno, NV 89557 phone:   (775) 784-8262  
fax:  (775) 784-8261