UMass Boston Earns $3M IGERT Grant to Study Coastal Environments

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New fellowship program at UMass Boston will train environmental problem-solvers in Massachusetts Bay and the Horn of Africa.

Environmental problems don’t acknowledge national or academic borders, so neither can our students.

The University of Massachusetts Boston is launching a new graduate program to train the next generation of environmental problem-solvers, funded by a five-year, $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) grant will fund the creation of the Coasts and Communities fellowship program, drawing graduate students from UMass Boston’s pioneering School for the Environment in the College of Science and Mathematics, the McCormack Graduate School for Policy and Global Studies, and the College of Management.

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the program will accept eight fellows annually to study environmental challenges in urban coastal areas in Massachusetts Bay and countries in the Horn of Africa. The fellows will be drawn from a pool of PhD students in Environmental Science, Environmental Biology, Global Governance and Human Security, and Business Administration: Organizations and Social Change.

"What this award represents is another indication of the University of Massachusetts Boston expanding its reach globally," said Chancellor J. Keith Motley. "We are enabling our graduate students to become global environmental problem-solvers. Our students who will be fellows in this program will be able to further and apply their innovative and sustainable solutions to environmental problems across disciplines and geographies."

“The Coasts and Communities program will deliver a transnational, transdisciplinary curriculum and integrated research experiences that prepare environmental leaders for careers as “eco-preneurs,” scholars, and governmental leaders,” said Robyn Hannigan, dean of the School for the Environment.

“Environmental problems don’t acknowledge national or academic borders, so neither can our students,” Hannigan said. “Our vision is a transformative program that takes advantage of the synergy between the sciences, social sciences, governance, and business.”

The program is the result of a close collaboration between principal investigators Hannigan and Maria Ivanova, assistant professor of global governance and co-director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the McCormack Graduate School, with significant contributions from David Levy, chair of the Department of Management and Marketing in the College of Management.

The Coasts and Communities fellows will have extensive opportunities for international collaboration, including the chance to study with professors from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. They can also work with officials in the United Nations Environment Programme and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC).

“We have cultivated a serious partnership with higher education and intergovernmental institutions in the Horn of Africa over several years and that foundation will be critical to the success of our IGERT program,” said Ivanova. “Working with scientists and policymakers, students will acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and devise solutions for environmental problems in urbanizing areas across the globe.”

About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 10 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 16,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit

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