Centers, Institutes and Programs


Alternative energy and biofuels

Colorado State is a leader in alternative energy and biofuels research and offered one of the first courses on biofuels in the country. CSU is internationally known for its research developing clean energy solutions, including programs in alternative fuels. Researchers from CSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering are developing biofuels from algae.

Center for Agricultural Energy

The Center for Agricultural Energy (CAE) empowers agricultural producers in Colorado to make environmentally and financially sound energy decisions. Affiliated faculty conduct agricultural energy audits, outreach, and research.

Center for Collaborative Conservation

The Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC) is a place where stakeholders come together to define, discuss, study and act on critical issues affecting the earth’s ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. Its Fellows program works to strengthen engagement among students, faculty, conservation practitioners and other stakeholders by promoting collaborative research, education and action on critical issues concerning conservation and livelihoods on landscapes around the globe. The CCC Fellows are part of a network where principles and practice of collaborative conservation are developed, exchanged, tested and adapted.

Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes

The Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) is a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center focused on understanding and predicting the role of clouds in the Earth’s climate system and improving the representation of cloud processes in climate models. The Center has a science and education mission to educate and train people with diverse backgrounds in climate change and earth-system science by enhancing teaching and learning and disseminating science results. This educational mission has extended to hosting the Colorado Global Climate Conference in 2008 and a workshop on Weather and Climate for Teachers in July 2008 for certified teachers of any grade level.

Center for Protected Area Management

The Center for Protected Area Management (CPAM) is an outreach center that promotes protected area management around the world. Their mission is to contribute to the conservation, planning, and management of the world’s protected areas and the landscapes and seascapes that connect them through capacity building, applied research, and technical collaboration with the organizations that help manage them and the communities whose well-being depends on them. CPAM provides a bridge between academic researchers and front lines protected area practitioners, working on issues related to protected area planning, visitor management, interpretations techniques, and much more.

Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise

Through the College of Business, the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Enterprise (CASE) launched a new, innovative program in May 2010 to make companies more valuable through sustainable business practices. The program provides an innovative framework that will deliver practical tools to executives to design and implement sustainable business practices.

Center for the New Energy Economy

Founded in February 2011, the Center for the New Energy Economy is a privately-funded initiative to support the growth of a clean energy economy across the United States. The Center, a part of Colorado State University, is led by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and is assisted by some of the nation’s most important thought leaders in clean energy research, development and commercialization. The Center works directly with governors, legislators, regulators, planners, policy makers, and other decision makers, providing technical assistance to help them create the policies and practices that will facilitate America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The mission of the Center is to incorporate best practices from around the nation and world to accelerate the development of a new energy economy.

Changing Climates Initiative

The Changing Climates Initiative is a campus-wide project launched in 2007 and supported by faculty and researchers from every CSU college, whose interests and research unite around climate change. This effort helps faculty infuse information and research on climate content into their courses in all majors and disciplines. It also provides seminars to train faculty and staff on climate change topics.

Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station

The Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station hosts eight research centers in 10 sites throughout Colorado. The agency conducts interdisciplinary research addressing economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social acceptability of activities that have an impact on the agriculture, natural resources, and consumers in Colorado.

Colorado State Forest Service

CSU operates the Colorado State Forest Service with a mission to provide stewardship of the state’s forest resources and to reduce related risks to life, property and the environment for the benefit of present and future generations. The Forest Service operates 17 district offices across Colorado, with a range of services that include forest management, wildland fire, urban and community forestry, and conservation education.

Colorado Water Institute

The Colorado Water Institute (CWI) is a research and outreach agency within the CSU Office of Engagement that connects the water information needs of the state to faculty and students at CSU as well as other public universities in Colorado. CWI staff conducts research, teaches courses and seminars, and convenes and facilitates water-related discussions. They offer research grants, internship opportunities, scholarships, and provide water-related information to the citizens of Colorado through the web, publications, informal and formal education, and events.

CSU Extension

Extension programs in Colorado serve residents in 62 of Colorado’s 64 counties. Extension provides extensive educational information, based on Colorado State University research, to the public to meet local needs in topics such as water conservation, sustainable agricultural practices, drought management, food safety and nutrition, and more. It also operates programs, such as the 4-H Youth Development Program and ‘Master’ volunteer programs such as Colorado Master Gardeners, Native Plant Masters, Master Food Safety Advisors and Clean Energy Masters.

CSU Mountain Campus

At an elevation of 9,000 feet, Colorado State’s mountain campus and conference center sits in a beautiful, secluded mountain valley. As a site for conferences, workshops, meetings, and retreats, this campus offers a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy nature in the Rocky Mountains. The campus’ location also offers a unique opportunity for students in the Warner College of Natural Resources. Academic classes are held here during the summer months that include outdoor labs, field study, and classroom work. NR-220 is a four-week field course for undergraduate students and F-230 is a one-week program for Forestry majors.

CSU Water Center

The CSU Water Center brings together a network of over 200 faculty members from various departments across the campus and seeks to engage faculty and students in interdisciplinary water research, teaching, engagement, and service. The Water Center is within CSU’s Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President. The Center provides research grants, hosts events and seminars that highlight innovative water research and activities, produces The Current e-newsletter, works in partnership with the Colorado Water Institute to produce the Colorado Water newsletter, offers the Sustainable Water Interdisciplinary Minor (SWIM), and formal and informal water education.

Ecology — Graduate Degree Program

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE) is an interdisciplinary program for students with interests in a wide range of ecological subjects. The program provides advanced training in current ecological methods, theories, concepts, controversies and applications by drawing together individuals and synthesizing knowledge from a wide variety of traditional disciplinary areas of science. The program is jointly administered by the Warner College of Natural Resources and the College of Natural Sciences. It currently involves 113 faculty members from 17 departments.

Environmental Affairs Interdisciplinary Program

The Environmental Affairs interdisciplinary certificate program is designed for students of all majors who have a particular interest in environmental topics. This is a 21-credit undergraduate certificate program centered in the College of Liberal Arts but also includes courses from the rest of the university. Similar to a minor, completion of the certificate program is noted on a student’s transcript. The program’s core in the social sciences and humanities is supplemented with science and elective courses. It provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to draw upon Colorado State University’s environmental expertise as they broaden their education.

Environmental Engineering

CSU offers classes in Environmental Engineering that teach about human and natural environments, how they function, how they can be damaged, and how hazards arise from environmental contamination. Environmental Engineers are the technical professionals who identify and design solutions for environmental problems. Environmental Engineers provide safe drinking water, treat and properly dispose of wastes, maintain air quality, control water pollution, and remediate contaminated sites due to spills or improper disposal of hazardous substances. They monitor the quality of the air, water, and land, and they develop means to protect the environment.

Environmental Governance Working Group (EGWG)

The Environmental Governance Working Group (EGWG) at Colorado State was created in 2008 as a joint project of the Department of Political Science and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University. It’s a multidisciplinary community of scholars seeking to advance research on environmental governance and sustainability. Its network includes faculty, researchers and graduate students from across the Colorado State University campus; decision-makers working for federal, state, and local agencies and non-profits; and scholars based at institutions around the world. EGWG’s leadership team includes Michele Betsill (Political Science), Tony Cheng (Forest and Rangeland Stewardship), and Peter Leigh Taylor (Sociology).

Environmental Learning Center

The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is a unique learning environment and a valued natural resource in Northern Colorado. It’s situated on 212 acres of land, approximately three miles east of CSU’s main campus, on the banks of the Poudre River at the end of the Poudre River Trail. It’s managed through CSU’s College of Natural Resources and staffed primarily by students. With four ecosystems on the property — wetlands, riparian, cottonwood forest, and prairie ecosystems — the ELC is home to a diversity of flora and fauna. The mission of the ELC is to connect people with nature by facilitating educational, inclusive and safe experiences in the natural environment and to advance the field of environmental education through sound research and practice. That mission is accomplished through the provision of programs for schools, scout troops, the general public, and families. The ELC also conducts and hosts many research projects affiliated with Colorado State, from evaluating the effectiveness of experiential learning to studying the song patterns of chickadees.

Environmental Philosophy and Environmental Ethics

The Philosophy Department in the College of Liberal Arts offers master’s and doctoral programs with an emphasis in Environmental Philosophy and Environment Ethics. University Distinguished Professor Holmes Rolston is a co-founder and associate editor of Environmental Ethics and founding past-president of the International Society of Environmental Ethics.

Environmental Politics and Policy

The Political Science Department in the College of Liberal Arts offers a graduate program with a unique concentration on the study of environmental politics and policy.

Environmental Psychology

CSU has offered an an undergraduate course and a graduate seminar in environmental psychology for more than 30 years. The Environmental Psychology textbook authored by Paul Bell, Ross Loomis (first edition), and CSU alumnus Tom Greene is in its fifth edition and is used at universities throughout the world; it has even been translated into Chinese. Graduates of the environmental specialization in CSU’s Psychology Department have been placed with numerous universities as well as with the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, and the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.


FEScUE is a multidepartmental program at Colorado State, funded by the National Science Foundation, that engages undergraduates and faculty in mathematics, statistics, and the life sciences in jointly mentored interdisciplinary research clusters and in structured multidisciplinary coursework. The program is built around actively engaging students in research clusters mentored by two senior faculty members, one from mathematics and one from the life sciences. The need for interdisciplinary research that combines the mathematical and life sciences is increasingly urgent as our abilities to gather data outpace our ability to effectively analyze the data we collect — and as we seek to understand phenomena over ever wider ranges of scales. While the jointly-mentored research experience is the program’s focal point, FEScUE is a comprehensive educational experience that includes special seminars, gateway and fusion courses, and career advising.

Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Master of Science Degree

To address global challenges of poverty, environmental degradation, and poor health, the College of Business has created a new 18-month Master of Business Administration degree in Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise that teaches students to use entrepreneurial, sustainable approaches. The curriculum tailors business classes to address the challenges of the developing world and offers cross-disciplinary courses including social entrepreneurship, microfinance, and ecological perspectives for business. At the core of the GSSE experience is team-based venture creation, which enables students to work on real-world opportunities, often with leading institutions in the field of environmental conservation and international development.

Global Social & Sustainable Enterprise Speaker Program

This College of Business lecture series has hosted invited speakers including Gifford Pinchot III (co-founder and president of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute); Hernando De Soto (President of the Lima-based Instituto Libertad y Democracia); author and Net Impact founder Mark Albion; and Amy Smith (Director of the D-Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MacArthur “Genius Grant” award winner).

Green Building Certificate Program

The Institute for the Built Environment at CSU has created a program that focuses on sustainable building tools and strategies, including LEED ®, the nationwide rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council. Its Green Building Certificate Program is an on-campus, accelerated evening program providing critical knowledge about emerging practices in commercial and residential building.

Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

The Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees with undergraduate concentrations in protected area management, global tourism, natural resource tourism, and environmental communication. A degree can lead to a career as an outdoor education specialist, park ranger, tourism planner, recreation manager, or adventure tour guide. More than half of Colorado state park employees are graduates of this department.

Institute for the Built Environment

Colorado State’s Institute for the Built Environment is an interdisciplinary research and education center for environmentally responsible building design and construction. In addition to a graduate emphasis in sustainable building, IBE works with industry professionals to offer coursework, training and design charrettes in addition to conducting research. In 2009, the CSU’s Institute for the Built Environment created the certificate program in direct response to the growing need for specially trained professionals who can adapt to the changing industry.

Little Shop of Physics

CSU’s hands-on science and physics education program, Little Shop of Physics, is collaborating with the University’s Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmospheric Processes (CMMAP) in taking science education and environmentally focused science projects to schools and the community.

Master Gardener Program

The Colorado Master Gardener Program through Colorado State’s Extension, trains volunteers to assist in delivering knowledge-based information about home gardening to Colorado residents. The Master Gardener training consists of more than 66 hours of classroom instruction offered in counties statewide. While content is focused on the interests of home gardeners, 20% of the students who participate are in the green industry and use the classes for career training.

Mechanical Engineering

The Mechanical Engineering program at CSU offers a curriculum that combines classroom learning with engineering practice. Students not only learn about mechanical engineering analysis and design, they also gain valuable hands-on experience through class projects and application-oriented research. All senior mechanical engineering students can participate in designing and building a capstone project that is part of a national senior design competition. Students also have the opportunity for research-based projects. Each project is based on a corporate model that provides students significant opportunities for leadership development and experiential learning. In the graduate program, master’s and doctoral students are integral members of research teams addressing global issues. Student researchers apply the fundamental concepts of mechanical engineering to aid in the development of new technology in areas which include: biofuels, clean engines, photovoltaic solar cells, battery technologies, materials science, bioengineering, plasmas and space propulsion, dynamics and controls, and motorsport engineering.

Natural Resources and Sustainability Residential Learning Community

Warner College of Natural Resources and the College of Agriculture at CSU host the Natural Resources and Sustainability Residential Learning Community, where students interested in sustainability live in a community in Summit Hall and take a service based seminar on sustainability. The first class worked to help Great Sand Dunes National Park create the nation’s first Visit Green initiative that helps park visitors learn how to be sustainable in the San Luis Valley. This program is designed to be a pilot for the National Park Service and by using students, helps train the next generation of green workers in tourism and park management.

Organic Agriculture

The Interdisciplinary Studies Program in Organic Agriculture at Colorado State University, one of the first such university programs in the nation, provides a unique opportunity to study the science of organic production. Our program builds on a base of fundamental agricultural sciences with additional courses on organic agricultural methods, management and marketing. This program is for agriculture and horticulture students considering a career in organic food production, or for any student concerned about the environmental and sociological impacts of conventional agricultural practices and interested in alternative approaches. Participating students are enrolled at Colorado State University and receive their degree from their home department, with completion of the Interdisciplinary Studies Program recorded on their official transcripts.

Program for Interdisciplinary Mathematics, Ecology, and Statistics

The Program for Interdisciplinary Mathematics, Ecology, and Statistics (PRIMES) at CSU is designed to address the challenges of studying complex ecological systems. Modern studies of ecological systems incorporate an extremely wide range of scientific and quantitative techniques, from the collection of data in the field, to the modeling of complex systems. Quantitative ecology has become an inherently multi-disciplinary activity. The idea underlying PRIMES is to equip graduate students from ecology, mathematics, and statistics with the skills to work at the interface of the three disciplines and to support research on ecological problems involving advanced quantitative tools. PRIMES activities concentrate in the areas of Ecology of Managed Ecosystems, Ecology of Global Change, Dynamics of Introduced Disease, Aquatic Resources Modeling, and Evolution in Structured Populations. These activities include innovative course offerings, early exposure to team-based research, and the hosting of long- and short-term visitors, workshops, and internships and mentoring for students by ecologists working in national laboratories and agencies.

Protected Area Management & Training

The Warner College of Natural Resources offers the Wildlands and Protected Area Management course. This course has been in place for 17 years with more than 350 past participants from 26 countries. Each year, the course strives for carbon neutrality. This year, it calculated the CO2 emissions emitted by participant travel and course operation, and then offset these emissions by donating money to construct energy efficient cookstoves.

Public Lands History Center

Founded in 2007, the Public Lands History Center at Colorado State University produces historical knowledge that helps resource managers, scientists, and citizens understand and protect public lands and resources. The PLHC’s projects facilitate the development policy on complex issues relating to the environment, land and water used, agriculture, and cultural resource management.

School of Global Environmental Sustainability

The School of Global Environmental Sustainability or SoGES is an umbrella organization that was established in 2008 to encompasses all environmental education and research at the university. The school positions CSU to address the multiple challenges to global sustainability through broad-based research, curricular, and outreach initiatives. Areas of emphasis include food security, poverty, inequality, water management strategies and desertification, globalization, industrial ecology, sustainable engineering, population growth, and urbanization. This approach capitalizes on the University’s historic strength in environmental research and education, and will build upon the education and research that already exists within all eight colleges on campus.

Sustainable Building Emphasis — Construction Management major

A Sustainable Building Emphasis in CSU’s Construction Management graduate program. Students enroll in core sustainable building and construction management courses and are encouraged to select other sustainability courses on campus to best prepare them for their chosen graduate research direction.

Warner College of Natural Resources

All academic departments in the Warner College of Natural Resources have an environmental focus: Fish/Wildlife; Forest/Rangeland; Geosciences; and Human Dimensions in Natural Resources. The Warner College offers a large number of freshman courses, an interdisciplinary degree program in environmental management, and an interdisciplinary certificate in conservation biology.

Western Center for Integrated Resource Management

The Western Center for Integrated Resource Management’s mission is to improve the sustainability and profitability of forage-based agriculture and natural resource systems through integrated, innovative multidisplinary research and education programs. The program offers a Master of Agricultural Sciences degree that involves contributing faculty from the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Warner College of Natural Resources, and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The long-term goal of the Western Center is to “improve the competitive position and sustainability of independent livestock producers and the economic and environmental health of rural communities.”