Center History

Kenneth Keller came to the Humphrey School in September of 1996 after serving as President of the University of Minnesota. Keller saw how the intersection of science and policy was becoming an important aspect of society and established the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy.

Keller had a few specific goals for the center. First, he made it a priority to create an endowed chair for the center to ensure that the mission would not rest in the work of one person. With a generous financial gift by Charles M. Denny, Jr., former CEO of ADC Telecommunications, Keller was able to establish the Denny Chair as the anchor for the center. The Denny Chair currently is held by Professor Anu Ramaswami.

Keller also worked on expanding the faculty base in science and technology policy. He believed it was important to hire faculty members with both strong science backgrounds and those that had worked closely in policy areas. One outcome of this effort was the Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy degree program.

The original agreement signed by Keller, Dean Brain Atwood, and then-University President Robert Bruininks spoke to addressing the policy issues related to climate change and its impact on the economic sectors. Included in this agreement was a commitment to explore science and technology goals as they relate to security, economic growth, health, environmental sustainability, and education. Furthermore, the center was to research the impact of science and technology on political and economic relations among nations and to aid in the development of governmental policies that will support research and development locally, nationally, and internationally. These goals largely have been achieved.

STEP faculty were involved in a strategic planning process from 2014-2015 to sharpen the mission and vision of the program to align with the University’s emphasis on grand challenges. The Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) area at the Humphrey School focuses on public issues arising at the intersection of science, technology, environment and society that shape economic development, environmental sustainability, human health, and well-being.


The mission of the STEP area is to integrate science with public policy, community action, and multi-sector governance to advance the common good in a complex and diverse world.


We will be the premier program that transforms policy and action to address society’s grand challenges at the intersection of science, technology, environment, and society.

Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455