A key goal of I-CARES is to foster institutional, regional and international research on the development and production of different forms of renewable energy and the exploration of sustainable environmental systems and practices.
I-CARES is focused on increasing university-wide and external collaborative research and educational activities in the areas of energy, the environment and sustainability.
The umbrella of I-CARES includes six signature initiatives; a growing cadre of interdisciplinary researchers; and a growing curriculum support focus that has helped engage new instructors, develop new courses and provide experiential opportunities for students.
As part of its mission, I-CARES awards seed funding to Washington University faculty undertaking research in the broad areas of bioenergy and sustainability through an annual call for proposals. Current awards have been given to faculty in Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, Brown School, School of Medicine, and the Olin Business School.
Ninety-four projects have been funded since the program was launched in 2008, funding collaborations between more than 35 external organizations and 166 individual researchers. These projects have culminated in exhibitions, new patents, scholarly publications, new collaborations, and success in obtaining external funding to extend the reach and impact of the research projects.
Partnership with Environmental Studies Program
Beginning in fall 2014, the Environmental Studies Program and I-CARES launched a formal partnership to further integrate environmental research and the classroom experience. The programs are coordinating on coursework, student experiences and research. To foster collaborations the programs hold monthly happy hours for interested members of the Washington University community.
The goal of the partnership is to leverage the assets of both programs to further develop the curriculum by attracting new instructors, adding new courses, and providing more experiential opportunities for students. The infrastructure of I-CARES will also be used to advance research priorities of the Environmental Studies program.
“There is a natural fit between the Environmental Studies program and I-CARES. The interdisciplinary breadth of the I-CARES funding program is matched by the curricular diversity of the Environmental Studies program and aligning the two programs will help us meet student needs to better prepare them for graduate studies and careers in energy, the environment and sustainability,” said David Fike, associate professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences and an I-CARES researcher.
The partnership has already helped attract new instructors to the program, was instrumental in launching an interdisciplinary climate change course, and formalizing opportunities for students to attend the annual international climate talks. Regular networking sessions have also served to catalyze new research collaborations, with new teams actively pursuing seed research funding from I-CARES and are federal funding agencies.
Topics for Conversation
In October 2011, I-CARES initiated “Topics for Conversation,” a series of discussion groups. These groups are small by design and meet periodically throughout the year. They consist of faculty from disparate disciplines, administrators, and community colleagues.
By drawing individuals together from diverse academic disciplinary backgrounds and professional interests, I-CARES supports the creation of new collaborations and solutions to our current pressing environmental challenges.