Today’s world faces a critical challenge: Human population growth is at a rapid pace; We are depleting and damaging the world’s natural resources — fertile soil, water, biodiversity — at an alarming and unsustainable rate; The global climate is changing. These worrying environmental phenomena directly threaten our socioeconomic and political stability, our food security, our very future. In counterpoint, this is an age of unprecedented scientific and technological advance and innovation. Clearly, we need to fully harness this rich base of new knowledge and knowhow in order to protect the environment and thus help ensure a healthier and better future for all.
The new Institute of Environmental Sciences (IES) at the Hebrew University’s Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment was born out of the understanding that our agroecosystems are an intrinsic and interdependent component of the entire ecosystem, which means that their protection and safe management is a highly complex challenge that requires extraordinary, across-the-board, multidisciplinary solutions. Sound management of lands used for agricultural production, for instance, requires understanding and enhancing their symbiotic relationship with surrounding open spaces and nature reserves. It could also mean investigating the effects of global climate change on insect-plant interactions, soil microorganisms, water dynamics and soil erosion. These types of subjects are under the purview of the IES which unites, under one multidisciplinary roof, close to 40 research groups. The expertise of the scholars in these groups embraces a broad variety of agroecosystem-related topics within four core disciplines: plant pathology and microbiology; entomology; soil and water sciences; and environmental economics.