The University of Nevada, Reno has a long history of both departmentally-based and campus-wide interdisciplinary environmental programs. There also have been several efforts in the past that have tried to foster and coordinate greater interaction among faculty and staff interested in environmental issues.
In the 1990s, two university centers were created to promote greater activity in this arena at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering (CESE) at the University of Nevada, Reno was created in 1992 with the help of a large grant by Sierra Pacific Resources. It was designed to prepare scientists and engineers for careers in the expanding areas dealing with environmental processes and quality, and stimulate research into solutions to the environmental problems of Nevada, the American Southwest and the world. Expertise in the Center came primarily from the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute. In addition, the Center coordinated closely with scientists, engineers, educators, administrators and other policy makers from all segments of the Nevada System of Higher Education, governmental agencies, environmental groups and industry.
The Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities (CEAH) was established in July 1995 in recognition of the central place of the fine arts and humanistic scholarly disciplines in exploring the meaning of the natural environment for human culture and the impact humans exert on the larger planet. Traditionally, environmental studies programs have emphasized the physical sciences and policy studies; however, the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities brought together a group of distinguished scholars and teachers from such fields as literature, photography, philosophy, history, geography and anthropology to illuminate not only the physical and political dimension of the environment, but the important ways in which nature permeates our imaginative lives, our cultural and aesthetic experience, in America and throughout the world. In complementing the work of the University Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, their goal was to create a new model for interdisciplinary research and teaching on environmental topics by merging the scientific and humanistic disciplines.
These Centers provided outstanding leadership on campus and promoted a significant number of seminars, projects, and other opportunities for interaction among faculty and staff that had not occurred previously.