In 2008, Professors David Furbish (Arts and Science), Mike Vandenbergh (Law), David Kosson (Engineering), and W. Kip Viscusi (Law, Economics, and Owen) developed a proposal for the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment (VIEE). Vanderbilt’s leadership recognized the importance and potential impacts of their concept and initially invested funds for a director and an administrative manager. Professors George M. Hornberger (Engineering and Arts and Science) and David Hess (Arts and Science) served as the director and the associate director. During the subsequent decade, the VIEE helped to develop the faculty networks that achieved $21 million in funding, several major research awards, substantial cross-training of postdoctoral and graduate students, many research opportunities for undergraduates, and a very substantial flow of research.
The Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and the Environment (VIEE) was Vanderbilt University’s central networking hub for research and education related to energy and the environment. The VIEE facilitated transinstitutional connections that linked all schools and disciplines represented at Vanderbilt, including the physical sciences, the social and behavioral sciences, engineering, education, religion, health and medicine, and law and policy. The VIEE facilitated the development of Vanderbilt's reputation for its high level of interdisciplinary conversations on climate, the environment, water, and energy across the schools and departments. Vanderbilt has provided leadership in transdisciplinary research with well-integrated groups of natural scientists, engineers, and social scientists. For example, our water-related research efforts developed and implemented the National Research Council’s call for a “translational hydrologic science” in Challenges and Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences. The VIEE facilitated communications through its web site, sponsored research, weekly meetings of faculty from across the schools, and cross-training of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
With the retirement of George Hornberger in 2021, the VIEE was closed, and the Office of the Provost and Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan convened the Climate, Environment, and Energy Futures Working Group. The group was charged with developing a plan and vision for future research at Vanderbilt on climate, the environment, and energy. Craig Philip, Research Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Transportation and Operational Resiliency, became chair of the group.