The complexity of global scale energy and environmental issues demands an integrated approach to their analysis and resolution. These issues are ultimately tied to the security and prosperity of the United States and to business and policy decisions on the global, national, state, and local levels. Science, engineering, public policy, economic, business, and other aspects of these issues can contribute elements through discipline-based investigations, however the maximum value a comprehensive academic institution can bring to these efforts is through integration of all of its relevant capabilities into the investigation of these issues. The University of Texas at Austin, based on its historic role in energy, environmental, and policy research, its production of professionals and leaders in the domestic and international energy industry, and its breadth of capabilities is uniquely positioned to lead in creative interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis and formulation of international energy and environmental policy. The creation of an organization, the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy (CIEEP), dedicated to advancing this capability, represents the University’s commitment to excellence in this area of critical importance to Texas, the nation, and the world.
The University of Texas at Austin Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy provides interdisciplinary assessments of current and emerging global energy and environmental issues and develops policy options for dealing with them at global, national, and local scales.
CIEEP is a cooperative effort among the Jackson School of Geosciences, LBJ School of Public Affairs, and the College of Engineering. Faculty members and research staff from these entities and from other university organizations with an interest in energy and environmental policy and an interest in working on interdisciplinary approaches to complex issues are the foundation for the program. The center director reports to the dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences where the center director and program office are based. The director receives advice and guidance from a Coordinating Committee consisting of persons appointed by the deans of the three parent organizations.
Faculty and research staff collaborating on projects developed through CIEEP will submit proposals, receive funding, and manage projects through CIEEP. Research faculty and research staff positions may be partially or totally based in CIEEP as program needs call for center-based research staff.
The academic faculty cluster-hire positions provided to CIEEP by the provost were recruited by the center to meet its core program needs but are based in participating departments. The center director participates in CIEEP-related new faculty promotion and tenure reviews, which will be conducted by their home departments, to provide input regarding their research accomplishments related to center programs. Because much of the CIEEP program activity will be interdisciplinary in nature, some faculty appointments will be joint between or among participating departments.
Additional Program Elements
There is a great need for improving the use of scientific and engineering understandings in energy and environmental decision making and for improving the ability of this community to effectively communicate its knowledge to policymakers. Through its capacity to involve experts from policy, economic, business, and social fields along with scientists and engineers in multidimensional studies, CIEEP will seek to improve processes for supporting decisions with all relevant elements.
Many studies with policy implications conducted by academic organizations do not maximize their relevancy and utility for use in private-sector and public agency assessments and policy formulation because of limited engagement of the user community in shaping the studies. While it is fully appropriate for a comprehensive university to conduct basic research in all areas, work that is intended to be applied needs to be shaped by the audience for and intended use of the findings. CIEEP will engage the private and public sectors as it develops priorities for its program and defines the type of products it will deliver.
Funding for the work conducted by CIEEP will come from a variety of sources. It is the intent of the center to aggressively seek support through grants and contracts from government, foundations, and the private sector. Obtaining endowment funds, to provide a base for center functions, will be a priority.