Sustainability, Energy, & Environment

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Due to the overwhelming interest in Science, Policy & Innovation (SPI), we have expanded this offering into three independent sessions. All three new sessions will continue to focus on the interaction of science and policy.

Students must indicate session preference on their application.

With an emphasis on developing scientific citizenship, students will learn how to effectively convey complex ideas to a non-expert audience and how understand how scientific innovation is shaped by–and makes impacts on–policymakers and businesses, as well as the forces of globalization, development, and markets.

Participants have the opportunity to tour Yale labs and core facilities such as the Yale Center for Proteomics & Genomics, the Center for Engineering Innovation & Design and Peabody Natural History Museum and talk to the scientists working there. 

The focus of these programs is not simply to expose participants to cutting edge science and its applications, but to encourage them to think like scientists.  To this end lectures and seminars will cover themes including advances in basic science, ethics, translational science and the socio-political determinants of the application of science.  Working in teams, students will develop and present a novel, pragmatic response to a contemporary challenge in one of the core program areas.

Who teaches in it?

Faculty involved in these program are drawn from across the University including the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Yale Law School, Yale Medical School, Yale School of Public Health, Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science and various departments in the sciences.

See the list of faculty who taught in SPI 2015 >>

Are there prerequisites?

While not formally required, students interested in these programs should have some background in high school science and math, and should be familiar with the scientific method.

Given the interdisciplinary focus of these session, students who have substantial science backgrounds are encouraged to apply, as are students who are interested in using and applying science in problem-based solutions in policy and entrepreneurial work.

Applicants are not expected to be experts in the respective fields of study.  Rather they are required to demonstrate an unquenchable curiosity about the practice and application of science.


Dates: July 26 - August 8, 2016

The Sustainability, Energy & Environment (SEE) session will analyze and discuss how people have influenced the natural world, and what effects those interactions have had on modern-day society.  Participants will think critically about how to address 21st-century problems related to these issues and what kind of solutions will pave the way towards a sustainable future. Special emphasis will also be given to the issues of agriculture, food security, climate change, biodiversity, sustainable development, evolutionary patterns, and migration.  Questions of interest will range from nanoscale innovation to geopolitical dilemmas to global ecosystems. Yale University is home to the several institutions related to the environment:

The SEE session will feature expertise from these interdisciplinary centers that make Yale a world leader in the area of Sustainability, Energy & Environment.   Additionally, Yale University uses various aspects of its campus as a living laboratory to test possible environmental solutions.  Participants in SEE will have the opportunity to observe some components of these solutions first-hand such as Kroon Hall which showcases some of the latest developments in green building technology and Yale’s Carbon Charge Project

If you have asked yourself any of the questions below, you will probably be interested in the Sustainability, Energy & Environment session of the Yale Young Global Scholars Program.

How can governments protect their electorate from pollution if pollution does not respect sovereignty?

What is the next frontier of renewable energy?
How can developing nations build cities that can accommodate future sustainable technology? 

Is a carbon tax a good idea?
How should governments help to implement sustainable energy technologies?
Can plants teach us how to make energy from the sun?
How can science inform legislation when science is constantly changing?
Do current “green” technologies work? 
How can our growing population be fed without destroying the planet?
Why does the mainstream media act like people don’t care about science?

Other topics may include:

  • Climate justice
  • Novel energy technologies
  • Biodiversity
  • Environmental law and policy
  • Conservation
  • Electronic waste
  • Natural resource management
  • Sustainable design
  • Geopolitical negotiations
  • Waste management
  • Population growth
  • Sustainable food production
  • Endangered species

Expertise will be drawn from areas such as Architecture, Engineering (Chemical & Environmental), Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geoscience and Natural Resources, History of Science, Law, Population Biology, Economics, Environmental Studies, Ethics, Politics & Economics, Forestry & Environmental Studies.