Climate change and other environmental concerns have created immense challenges, and Brown is tackling them in large part through the work of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society (IBES). IBES unites scholars, students, alumni, and community partners to devise effective and equitable solutions to these complex dilemmas.
From examining the health effects of chemicals in local water supplies to mitigating the increased spread of tropical diseases in rapidly warming areas, IBES is bringing together the expertise, the interdisciplinary lens, and the innovative approaches required to implement change across a number of climate, environmental, and sustainability issues.
The late George Billings ’72 LHD’21 hon., a longtime Brown supporter and proponent of the preservation of coastal environments, believed in the vast potential of this work. He brought these two passions together by leaving an estate gift to advance the institute’s research, teaching, and advocacy. His planned gift establishes a professorship, an accompanying research fund, and a separate graduate fellowship through endowed funds.
“Billings’s gift will be uniquely transformative for IBES,” says IBES Director Kim Cobb, an award-winning climate researcher who was recently named to President Joseph Biden’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
The endowed professorship will allow Brown to recruit top talent in the field who will work in close partnership with leading researchers from other disciplines across campus—such as public health and engineering—to combat climate change. According to Cobb, “These partnerships are critical to our goal of fostering solutions-oriented interdisciplinary education and research.”
IBES’s five-year strategic plan also prioritizes educating tomorrow’s leaders to advance solutions to the full range of pressing environmental dilemmas of our time. The graduate fellowship will attract and support graduate students who represent the future of climate and sustainability solutions. “Armed with skills and expertise gleaned across several disciplines, they will define whole new fields of innovation to tackle urgent challenges,” says Cobb.