Iowa State University has adopted a definition of “sustainability research” based on the definitions of sustainability from the 1987 Bruntland Commission and the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. Iowa State defines “sustainability research” as “research that works to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition includes research that focuses on the environmental, social, economic, and cultural aspects of sustainability for the purposes of enhancing the quality of life for present and future generations.

In addition to a dedicated focus of incorporating research opportunities (which includes sustainability-related research) through curriculum, Iowa State University has research units in nearly every discipline. In total, 100 research centers and institutes round out the opportunities for research engagement for students, faculty, and staff. Ames Laboratory, a federal Department of Energy facility, is also housed at Iowa State. In addition, the Iowa State University Research Park serves businesses of any size, including start-ups, small-staff operations, growing entrepreneurial ventures, and corporations with multiple locations worldwide.

More than 50% of university faculty members are engaged in sustainability research at Iowa State University, collectively representing 80% of Iowa State’s academic departments.