Research Themes

The UCD Earth Institute fosters multidisciplinary research and works with stakeholders to address global, regional and national environmental challenges across eight themes.


How can we ensure safely managed water supplies and sanitation for all? How can we effectively conserve the world’s marine and freshwater resources? What role can water play in renewable energy generation? How can we understand and mitigate flooding and extreme weather events of increasing severity? How do we support the economic development of coastal communities while maintaining and protecting biodiversity?

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Built Environment

How does the built environment impact on our health, our happiness and our life chances? How can we make our cities and towns smarter and more sustainable? How can we make our new and existing infrastructure more resilient to natural hazards and changing climates? How can our cities and regions be developed and revitalised to make them functional and stimulating places to live in? What can we learn from historical and prehistorical precedents of how communities constructed their environments?

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How can improved understanding of past climates help us to predict and model future climates? How will changing climate influence our ability to provide water and food for growing populations? How can our communities, particularly those in coastal areas, prepare and adapt? What technologies will help us contain our CO2 output, and make the shift to more efficient and renewable energy?

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Plants for the Future

How are changing climates and extreme weather events affecting the global food supply and what can we learn from past climatic changes? How can plant disease resistance be improved to improve food productivity? How can we better understand plant responses to environmental change, abiotic and biotic stressors?

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Ecosystems & Evolution

How can we better understand the complex interdependencies between humans, other animals, plants and microorganisms? How is shifting climate affecting plants and animals, their sources of food and their patterns of migration? What are the best ways to protect and restore these ecosystems, or help them adapt, so we can maintain the services that they provide—for each other, and for us?

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People, Work, Society

How do we ensure people can flourish in the transition to a sustainable, regenerative system? How do we ensure the future of work, that work is fit for purpose and that people can get decent work? How do we elevate care and caring to a valued position in society? How do we ensure racial justice fundamental to collective progress? How do we motivate and create new systems that put people at the forefront of progressive thinking and action?

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Sustainable Communities

How can we make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable? Can social cohesion and citizen involvement help to advance change and improve the way we make decisions? How does the environment impact on issues of well-being and happiness, poverty and inequality? What can we learn from historical and prehistorical precedents of how communities organised themselves?

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