Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

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The Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy fosters interdisciplinary and community-engaged research on human well-being, environmental sustainability, and social justice in a complex and diverse world. The Center conducts public engagement with external partners, develops environmental leadership, and facilitates solutions-oriented projects at the nexus of science, technology, and environmental policy.

Our Work

  • Conduct transformative research that helps solve the most pressing challenges at the intersection of science, technology, environment, and society.
  • Explore best practices for translating science to action to inform policy problems around environment, sustainability, health, and well-being through multi-stakeholder engagement.
  • Create a network of faculty, students, alumni, and partners that grounds the program in the real world, enabling high-impact action.
  • Engage in knowledge co-production with diverse stakeholders to improve public understanding of science and the public's ability to make decisions on issues that involve science and technology.
  • Create active learning environments with students, faculty, and professionals to translate science and technology into action.

Our Areas of Research

Energy and Climate Policy

This area explores policies to facilitate a more equitable energy transition while mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change. FacultyGabe Chan

Risk and Resilience Assessment and Management

This area embraces how risk assessment informs policy development and decision-making in a cross-disciplinary way by addressing the core natural and social science issues, and makes connections between science/technology and policy by integrating understanding across the sciences. FacultyPeter Calow

Technology Innovation and Policy

This area studies governance of new technologies and the policies that accelerate innovation and steer technological change towards the common good. FacultyGabe Chan

Water, Energy, and Food Systems

This area explores the social, ecological, and technological factors that affect the sustainability and equity of our food, water, and energy systems. Faculty: Bonnie Keeler

Conservation and Land Use

This area addresses policy and planning issues related to land use and land management that affect the provision and value of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Faculty: Bonnie Keeler

Our Collaborators

Research at the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy connects naturally with other centers housed at the Humphrey School, as well as other units across the University of Minnesota such as the Institute on the Environment, the Water Resources Center, and the Technology Leadership Institute. The center is also a member organization of the UMN Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences.

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Center History

Kenneth Keller came to the Humphrey School in September 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 specific goals for the center. First, he made it a priority to create an endowed chair for the center to ensure that its  mission would not rest in the work of one person. With a generous financial gift from Charles M. Denny Jr., former CEO of ADC Telecommunications, Keller established the Denny Chair as the anchor for the center. The Denny Chair was most recently 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 who have both strong science backgrounds and experience working in policy areas. One outcome of this effort was the establishment of the Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy degree program.

The original agreement signed by Keller, then-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 sector. 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 in 2014 to 2015 to sharpen the mission and vision of the program to align with the University’s emphasis on grand challenges. The 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.

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