Research Themes

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

Built and Constructed 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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Crops 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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Energy & Resources

How can we ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns? Can economic growth be decoupled from resource use? How can we deliver a just transition to a zero-carbon economy? How can we use the resources we have more efficiently? How can we stimulate development in the Global South and marginalised communities?

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Policy & Governance

How can we improve environmental decision-making and management at global, national and local scaes? How can we design our environmental governance laws to maximise environmental compliance? What policies and legal structures are needed to effect the transformative changes required to tackle challenges including climate change and global biodiversity loss, and how do we track and measure their efficacy?

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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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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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