Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences:

Seeking Input!!!


What Are We Doing?

How Can You Help?

A new committee of the United States National Research Council (Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences) has been asked by the National Science Foundation to identify and prioritize grand challenges in environmental sciences that are likely to be relevant over the next 10-30 years. The committee would like advice from the scientific community and others. The idea is to describe a few grand challenges that appear to have the greatest scientific importance, research potential, and practical value.

The committee invites submission of ideas for grand challenges in environmental sciences; it will use those ideas to help it in its task, and anticipates inviting some respondents to a future workshop for more extended discussions. The committee considers that any grand challenge must be compelling to scientists and the public, must require a sustained research effort, and must be intellectually exciting. Beyond that, we ask you to provide the following information about your candidate grand challenge:

A. A one-sentence summary that will quickly convey your idea to a broad audience.

B. A narrative description of the challenge.

C. Evaluation of the challenge in terms of all the following criteria that are relevant to your idea:

  • Scientific payoff.
  • Practical payoff (i.e., help in solving environmental problems).
  • Feasibility (likelihood that valuable results would be produced over the next ten years).
  • The need for interdisciplinary collaboration, especially if it builds capacity for dealing with other challenges.
  • Research resources available or needed, including infrastructure such as new technology or information systems.
  • The ability of existing institutions to support the research effort.

Click Here To Submit Your Input


We encourage you to think broadly and to provide ideas that make connections among the sciences and between science and practical needs. The committee will begin to consider suggestions on February 26, 1999 and suggestions will be most useful if they are received by then. However, it is likely that suggestions received even as late as the beginning of May will be at least of some help to the committee. When submitting suggestions to, please provide your name, affiliation (if any),email address, mailing address, and telephone number.

We ask you to keep your suggestion to a maximum of one printed page. You may use the email address provided above for questions about our committee and our process as well as for your suggestions. We look forward to receiving your suggestions. We also encourage you to share this message with colleagues who may be interested.

National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences * Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences* 2001 Wisconsin Avenue, NW * HA 354* Washington, DC 20007