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Governors Island Center for Climate Solutions Proposal

October 14, 2021

Dear faculty, staff, and students,

Stony Brook University is one of several global institutions and research centers vying to become the anchor establishment for a groundbreaking climate science-related development project spearheaded by the City of New York and the Trust for Governors Island. Yesterday, October 13th, we submitted our proposal and we are now participants in a worldwide competition to select a university to anchor the project, helping to make New York an international hub for convening climate science research and solutions.

The selected institution will receive real estate on Governors Island — a 172-acre island located south of Manhattan and west of Brooklyn — and up to $150 million for capital improvements. New York City and the Trust for Governors Island are hoping to repeat the success of the 2011 Roosevelt Island Applied Science initiative (which became Cornell Tech) with this Governors Island-based climate science-related development project. They want this hub to support equitable climate solutions through research and commercialization. The institution selected will need to develop the island as a living laboratory and use innovative design for buildings. Community engagement, workforce development, and global and local partnerships will be central to this hub.

This once-in-a-generation opportunity aligns with Stony Brook’s mission and complements so much of the research and education happening here. A foundation of our proposal involves Stony Brook University curating an unprecedented network of organizations and individuals vital to the type of collaboration necessary to push climate solutions forward. Our goal is to emerge as a global convener for addressing climate change, forging pathways that empower communities by using a central physical location on Governors Island, and fostering international connections to accelerate sustainable solutions and spur connections that will give birth to extraordinary innovation.

Our plan is to convene thought leaders and key stakeholders in issues of sustainability, cultivate an engaging and interactive community-oriented experience, create meaningful connections, and contribute innovative technical and social solutions to the climate crisis. As part of our proposal, we have secured partnerships with the University of Oxford, University of Washington, Yale University, various environmental justice groups, and many others.

This is the kind of exciting project that will be a game-changer at Stony Brook if we get selected…and even if we do not. It has energized the many faculty and students involved with the planning and driven conversation across disciplines in a deep and meaningful way.

Upon learning of this opportunity, we assembled a team of faculty and staff to flesh out the possibilities for Stony Brook, and we sought expert advice from some who were involved in guiding Cornell’s winning bid in the Roosevelt Island competition.

Our vision:

  • Bring together a rotating set of global climate experts from the education and private sectors with policymakers and others to create a hub for cutting-edge research, creativity and leadership.

  • Integrate the built environment with the island’s natural resources, working with other occupants to leverage the island as a cohesive approach to climate change, and showcasing it by hosting conferences, competitions and exhibitions.

  • Encourage entrepreneurship and creativity through an “ecosystem” that includes climate-focused venture capital firms and other sources of seed funding and financing; provide incubation and co-working space for startups and established solutions-based organizations.

  • Share solutions and best practices for academics and businesses, establish educational programming for students, provide visits for New York City schoolchildren, host college and adult learners for residency programs.

  • Integrate technology and community programs by attracting an interdisciplinary set of experts; use Governors Island as a living laboratory.

  • Support workforce and economic development locally by working with the school system and workforce development organizations; use Governors Island as a launchpad for the establishment of green businesses; encourage emerging businesses to remain in the region.

We will keep you updated as our proposal moves forward and also encourage you to learn more about the project by visiting our Governors Island Center for Climate Solutions website. There you will find a video narrated by Alan Alda outlining “Why Stony Brook University” and a copy of our proposal.


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Maurie McInnis