Stanford University announced that it will launch the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability this fall, backed by a $1.1 billion donation from venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife, former board member and current advisory board member of the Environmental Defense Fund Ann Doerr, along with nearly $600 million from other donors.

The Doerrs’ gift is the largest in Stanford’s history, and one of the largest ever to a university.

John and Ann Doerr said:

“Today’s real and pressing challenges – not least, solving our climate crisis – require that knowledge be channeled toward the building of practical, implementable solutions. With a deep track record in groundbreaking scholarship and impact, and a critical mass of subject experts and innovators, Stanford is perfectly positioned to make a measurable difference in climate and sustainability challenges. This is the decisive decade, and we must act with full speed and scale.”

The new school, the first to be launched by Stanford in 70 years, aims to accelerate solutions to the global climate crisis, and to tackle urgent sustainability challenges facing people and ecosystems worldwide. Specific areas of scholarship for the new school include climate change, Earth and planetary sciences, energy technology, sustainable cities, the natural environment, food and water security, human society and behavior, and human health and the environment.

Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, said:

“We have designed a school for the future combining knowledge generation and impact, building on the strong foundation established through Stanford’s history of scholarship in Stanford Earth and our other schools and interdisciplinary institutes. We are deeply grateful to John and Ann for partnering with us to realize the school’s mission, as well as to the other generous lead donors who are leveraging their resources to help us create a more livable future.”

Stanford named Arun Majumdar as the school’s inaugural dean. Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering, joined Stanford in 2014, and has been serving as the Jay Precourt Professor & Co-Director, Precourt Institute for Energy. Prior to joining Stanford, Majumdar was Vice President for Energy at Google, and also served as Acting Under Secretary for Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Stanford unveiled a three-part structure for the new school, including academic departments, institutes and initiatives, and a Sustainability Accelerator. The academic departments, consisting initially of 90 existing faculty and an additional 60 expected to be added over 10 years, will be formed from existing departments, as well as planned new departments including Oceans, Environmental Behavior, Environment & Ecosystems, Climate Science, and Global Environmental Policy.

The school’s institutes will bridge areas of expertise across the university around critical challenges spanning energy, the environment and sustainable societies, as well as emerging areas of scholarship.

The Sustainability Accelerator, which will include a technology pillar and a policy pillar, will aim to drive policy and technology solutions for urgent climate and sustainability challenges, scaling them through local and global partners, and ensuring that they benefit all people, particularly those most impacted by environmental damage and climate change.

Majumdar said:

“The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability will not only harness the intellectual horsepower of our students, faculty, and staff across our campus, but also partner with external organizations around the world to co-develop innovative solutions and identify new insights through research and education. As is often said, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. We must create a future in which humans and nature thrive together.”