Students examine plants in a field of corn.

Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources

Penn State will be a leader in creating comprehensive solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change and address the challenges of providing safe and abundant water, clean and renewable energy sources, and plentiful and nutritious food.

“Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” – The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Article I, Section 27.

With service to the citizens of the Commonwealth as an institutional commitment, we embrace the challenge articulated so clearly in our Constitution. Climate change is recognized worldwide as one of the most important issues of our time and Penn State will be a leader in addressing and solving this challenge. In addition, with a projected global human population of 8 billion by 2040, food and water consumption are expected to increase by 50 percent and energy requirements by even more. Urgent research, development, and implementation needs exist regarding water, energy, and food, and there are even more pressing challenges in effectively, ethically, economically, and sustainably managing the interactions among them (for example, energy consumption for water desalination, or the use of crops for biofuels). Because of Penn State’s expertise and resources, including its extension program, profound opportunities exist for the University to lead by example and address these challenges in economical and sustainable ways that respect, protect, and adapt to the environment for future generations and set the stage for future national and global priority setting.

Drive fundamental science relevant to critical problems.

The world faces pressing fundamental science and engineering questions, the solutions to which underpin the development of enabling technologies. Across a range of topics—water purification and desalination, energy recovery, genetic crop analysis, stress-tolerant food production, better understanding of the human microbiome, responsible energy production from unconventional gas and oil reserves, and many more—Penn State faculty will perform the fundamental research necessary to help develop urgently needed new technologies.

Develop technologies for implementation.

Penn State will explore and pursue enabling physical, biological, agricultural science, and engineering technologies that encompass environmental, economic, policy, and sustainability considerations. They include water filtration and irrigation; power management; green building design; energy production, distribution, efficiency, and storage; critical mineral extraction from coal and coal-associated waste; and crop precision application, storage, and refrigeration.

Improve modeling capability.

Current and future indicators will be critical to identifying problems, establishing collaborative research and implementation priorities, tracking trends, and identifying leaders and best practices. Penn State will aim to provide predictive models of the water‐energy‐food triad that include interactions with environmental, economic, social, public policy, geological, geophysical, and climate-related systems.

Fully engage our research infrastructure.

Institutes, colleges, campuses, centers, laboratories, and libraries at Penn State offer personnel and unique infrastructure to address research opportunities related to stewarding Earth’s resources. All will have important roles in resolving fundamental, technological, and integrative questions associated with water, energy, and food.

Forge broad and relevant partnerships.

Research partnerships, funding sources, and end users are three stakeholder communities essential to making significant inroads against challenges related to water, energy, and food. Penn State will compile a comprehensive inventory of stakeholders (including industry, government, and international organizations) and engage them to drive success.