The NES Network was launched to promote, encourage and foster cross-disciplinary and cross-college dialogues, collaboration and discussion on areas relating to the environment. Many students and faculty members at CUNY are concerned with the multiple intersections between nature and society. These research interests range from environmental ethics, ecology, environmental justice, conservation, and natural resource use, to questions of how society can achieve sustainable development. And yet, rarely do we interact in ways that would enhance our research through dialogue, sharing, and collaboration.

Collaboration between students and faculty from different departments is the exception rather than the norm, even within campuses and much less across campuses. There is certainly no regular forum for sharing ideas and research on topics of sustainability, environmental justice, urban ecology, and other related topics. We particularly look forward to working together with faculty from the humanities, social sciences, arts, and natural sciences to make NES successful for all who participate.

Although faculty members (and students) are identified with a single discipline, environmental issues are multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary by definition. To address them requires understanding of human welfare, science, technology, public policy, and social change. One of the goals of the Nature, Ecology and Society Network is to encourage such interdisciplinary collaborative research — work that strengthens our projects and investigations, through building a comprehensive network.

The urban environment in which CUNY is situated has unique implications for this network. In this context, “nature, ecology and society” has multiple interpretations and applications. As Professor Yehuda Klein, Director in the Earth and Environmental Studies Program at The Graduate Center, reminds us, “One of the responsibilities of academic researchers in the environmental sciences is to make our work broadly accessible to members of the public.” Whether working through science, or the humanities, law or business, our urban setting and the resources of the diverse campuses through the City University of New York system offer a remarkable opportunity for exploring intersections of nature, culture, ecology and society.