The environment today is drastically different than the one in which our parents grew up. Similarly, future environments will differ from those we know today, whether measured in terms of mean annual temperatures, rainfall, shifting habitats and biomes, or housing affordability. Predicted future changes in climate and global development are beginning to offer concrete constraints on the nature of risks faced by our communities (e.g., sea-level rise, flooding, drought, and increased climate variability). However, we do not know how community sentiments, economic opportunity, physical infrastructure, and basic human needs like water and health will be affected by these risks. Innovative technological and design solutions are no doubt necessary, but they must be integrated into human societies that may have competing values. In short, we will have to adapt to and mitigate inevitable environmental upheavals while being mindful not to repeat the mistakes of our past.
Scholars at Rice are working on all sides of this problem. Faculty in the schools of Natural Sciences and Engineering are developing new water-treatment and energy technologies, adaptive building materials, and schemes for carbon capture, storage and utilization. Faculty in the schools of Social Sciences and Humanities are improving our understanding of the effects of environmental change and urban development on health and social inequality and how individuals and groups bring about institutional change. Meanwhile, faculty in Architecture are re-examining urban spaces in light of climate change, while the SSPEED Center is working with local stakeholders on mitigating flood risk in the city of Houston.
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Energy Transitions and Sustainability
- Earth Materials and Resources
- Sustainable Design/Infrastructure Resilience