The goals of our program are to ensure that modern civilizations coexist in synergy with nature and to promote sustainable communities where critical activities are ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable now and far into the future.
Environmental engineers and scientists are the technical professionals who identify and design solutions for environmental problems. They seek to mediate and mitigate human impacts on the environment, protect human populations from adverse environmental events such as floods and disease, and restore environmental quality for ecological and human well-being.
Traditionally, environmental engineers provided safe drinking water, treated and properly disposed of wastes, maintained air quality, controlled water pollution, and remediated sites contaminated by hazardous substances. While these conventional responsibilities grow more important every day, environmental engineers and scientists are being called upon increasingly to expand the focus of their efforts to address the challenges associated with alternative energy, sustainability, climate change, ecological restoration and emerging public health threats. This increase in the scope of the environmental research activity is accompanied by an increase in the demand for environmental engineers and scientists with graduate education who understand complex environmental issues and who can develop innovative solutions.
The Northwestern Approach
To meet today's demands, undergraduate and graduate education at Northwestern University begins by building a strong foundation in fundamental and applied environmental sciences. This foundation expands students' capabilities, providing state-of-the-art knowledge needed for finding and managing both natural and engineered solutions to environmental challenges.
These two components — science and technology — prepare students for entering professional practice and performing independent research. Research at Northwestern stresses the integration of applied science and engineering methods. It addresses current problems and generates new knowledge for dealing with the problems of the future. Although the scope of projects is large, the research is characterized by developing a fundamental scientific understanding in parallel with engineering solutions for prevention, restoration or management of natural and human systems.