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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt launches Center for Sustainability, Energy and Climate

As part of the Discovery Vanderbilt initiative, VSEC aims to address global sustainability and climate challenges through pioneering research and education.
Laura Vaughan
The Stevenson courtyard with the Small Molecule NMR Facility Core in the background, as captured on Sept. 26th, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Laura Vaughan)

Vanderbilt announced the launch of its Center for Sustainability, Energy, and Climate on April 1, whose goal is to promote research within and across disciplines, engage with local communities and global industries and address challenges in sustainability, energy and climate change. To be housed within the School of Engineering, VSEC joins the Centers for Addiction Research and Research on Inequality and Health as the newest research conglomerate under Discovery Vanderbilt, a “Dare to Grow” initiative overseen by the Office of the Provost.

The VSEC sets its sights on spearheading innovative solutions to environmental challenges through interdisciplinary research and collaboration. Its mission is to drive forward-thinking research that spans multiple disciplines and to foster educational initiatives that prepare the next generation for sustainable leadership. 

By integrating expertise from across Vanderbilt’s academic spectrum and engaging with both local and global communities, VSEC aims to make significant contributions to sustainability, energy, and climate discourse and action.

Hiba Baroud, interim director and co-leader of the strategic planning committee that proposed the center’s establishment, emphasized the need for bringing together a broad spectrum of faculty, students and researchers. 

“As VSEC launches, our first priority is to bring together faculty, students and researchers across schools and departments at Vanderbilt to identify research and education needs that are at the intersection of sustainability, climate and energy,” Baroud said. “This is an important step that will shape the activities of the center in the coming years. Another immediate priority is to launch a global search for a permanent Director for the center.”

Baoud further elaborated on VSEC’s commitment to community engagement.

“The aim is to ensure that the research produced at VSEC is both useful and usable by pairing scientific discoveries and technological innovation with implementation and policy adoption,” Baroud said. “We need to think of solutions and interventions at both the local and global scales. This will help us identify lessons that can be learned across communities and nations to foster a just and sustainable development worldwide.”

Junior Maya Maciel-Seidman said she sees great potential in VSEC based on her research experiences in the Climate, Health and Energy Equity Lab.

“I think VSEC will be a center of innovation where all of these different ideas, findings  and expertise can come together and inform each other,” Maciel-Seidman said. “I have found a home for my research interests in my interdisciplinary group at CHEEL, and I hope that others can do the same through VSEC’s initiatives.”

Eleanor Crone, another junior, said she was excited when she saw the announcement about VSEC’s creation due to her academic and research interests.

“As someone who studies the intersection of climate change and public policy, I hope that VSEC offers opportunities for undergraduates from all majors and backgrounds to assist with research projects and learn more about how scientific discoveries can inform policy implementation for a more sustainable future,” Crone said.

Senior Jason Hwong said he appreciates the center’s interdisciplinary nature.

“As a mechanical engineer with a second major in climate studies, I think that the center branching out from engineering in this way aligns very well with the personal approach that I’ve taken to my own studies,” Hwong said. “While I’m very interested in the technology and engineering of climate and sustainability issues, I’ve always felt that understanding the social and political context around these technologies is equally important.” 

Hwong added that he looks forward to VSEC spurring an increase in sustainability-focused education and extracurriculars within engineering. He is optimistic about VSEC’s potential to broaden the curriculum in sustainability, energy and climate and to catalyze student initiatives that bridge engineering with other disciplines.

“I hope this center amplifies the focus on sustainability across Vanderbilt, enriching our courses and clubs and drawing more experts to the university,” Hwong said.

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About the Contributors
Jenny Yang
Jenny Yang, Staff Writer and Photographer
Jenny Yang (‘26) is from Colonial Heights, Va. She is majoring in economics and political science with a minor in business. In her free time, Jenny enjoys trying new food, learning about different cultures and spending quality time with loved ones. She can be reached at [email protected].
Laura Vaughan
Laura Vaughan, Senior Staff Photographer
Laura Vaughan (‘25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science studying mathematics and economics. When not out on an assignment for The Hustler, she can be found studying in the Schulman Center, having lunch at Frutta Bowls or trying to clean her file structure. She is available at [email protected].

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MS '22
1 month ago

Article missed Hustler’s previous reporting that Vandy unceremoniously closed the original VU Climate & Energy Center (VIEE) back in 2021. The center’s staff were laid off suddenly and the community responded with protest.

An entire generation of students missed the opportunity to benefit from interdisciplinary climate opportunities because the uni wanted to invest in private box seats at the football stadium.

Hopefully VSEC sticks around longer…