Across UW-Madison and beyond its borders, the Nelson Institute forges partnerships in education, research and community service that promote a more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable world.

On Campus

At UW-Madison, the Nelson Institute fosters cooperation among and builds networks across disciplines ranging from the physical and social sciences, engineering and medicine to the arts and humanities. In addition to countless interdisciplinary collaborations in education and research, the institute provides organization and support for a number of campus-wide initiatives.

Office of Sustainability

The Office of Sustainability works to align sustainability research and education with campus operations and strives to make UW-Madison a living model that demonstrates our commitment to stewardship of resources, respect for place, and the health and well-being of the broader community.

UniverCity Year

Launched in 2016 with the Wisconsin Idea in mind, UniverCity Year is a three-year program that facilitates engagement between the University of Wisconsin–Madison learning community and localities, ultimately bringing faculty, students, and community members together to address some of the greatest challenges facing Wisconsin’s local governments.


The mission of Water@UW-Madison is to serve as a bridge between the numerous faculty, staff, and students with water interests on campus. Through fostering these connections, Water@UW-Madison has helped to create a vibrant and ever-growing water community on campus that continues to serve the needs of the state as it addresses vital questions on water security.

Earth Science Women’s Network

Earth Science Women’s Network is a peer-mentoring network of women in the earth sciences, most of whom are in the early stages of their careers. ESWN has nearly 1,000 members and represents most major universities, government agencies and research organizations in the United States and abroad.

In the Community

In the community, the Nelson Institute works with stakeholders in business, non-profit organizations and all levels of government to address emerging environmental issues that are local, regional or greater in scope.

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts

Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI), formed in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, UW System schools, and other organizations, researches potential climate change impacts on Wisconsin natural resources, ecosystems and regions; evaluates potential effects on industry, agriculture, tourism and other human activities; and develops and recommends adaptation strategies that can be implemented by businesses, farmers, public health officials, municipalities, resource managers and other stakeholders.

Water Resources Management Practicum

A key element of our Water Resources Management Graduate Program is the summer practicum, in which student-faculty teams work on a contemporary problem in water resources, usually through projects at the community level. Each annual practicum brings together students with diverse backgrounds and specialties to form an interdisciplinary team to tackle a real-world problem.

Community Environmental Scholars Program

The Community Environmental Scholars Program trains undergraduates to work with community-based environmental organizations, collaborate with fellow students, work with people on real environmental problems, and forge links between environmental studies and community service.

Native Nations Partnerships

The Native Nations_UW Working Group was convened to partner with the Native Nations in Wisconsin on efforts to improve health services, preserve the environment, develop local economies, strengthen families, and expand educational opportunities. NN_UW acknowledges and supports the overall goal of strengthening tribal sovereignty.