Director’s Letter

A letter from Benjamin Houlton, Director of the UC Davis Muir Institute


December 2017

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”                                   – John Muir

This simple but powerful quote by John Muir is the core foundation of what makes the UC Davis Muir Institute so special.

Since forming in the late 1990s, the Muir Institute has been a powerhouse in finding practical solutions to the complex challenges facing people and the planet. Whether it’s been our impact on applied research breakthroughs or working with decision-makers to develop effective “win- win” policies, we are a pioneer in the inter-disciplinary movement that has been so important to shaping a sustainable world-view for the 21st century. Our consortium of more than 400 faculty, staff and students from all of UC Davis’ colleges and professional schools, including experts in law, health, science, engineering and the humanities, continue to demonstrate that a clean and safe environment can work hand-and-hand with job creation and economic growth – a core signature of the Muir Institute approach.

Our mission is motivated by the unrivalled power of collaborative action and a shared, common belief that all people deserve access to clear air, safe drinking water, healthy food and a robust natural environment. We have several new and exciting initiatives, programs and activities which can help us to guide the world through today’s challenges:

  • Building the OneClimate initiative and establishing the Muir Institute as world- leading solver of global climate change.
  • Leading with big environmental data and harnessing its potential to address real world issues.
  • Catalyzing the next generation of global movers and shakers through our education and outreach programs that nurture and enhance opportunities to disadvantaged and underserved communities and our new Environmental Policy Master’s Degree
  • Collaborating with other universities, the public, policy makers, and business-and industry-leaders to provide unrivaled access to UC Davis’s world-class experts, acting as global consultants, thought-leaders and innovators.

As the 4th director of the UC Davis Muir Institute, it is with tremendous passion, enthusiasm and humility that I find myself in a position to help us achieve our overarching goals of identifying holistic solutions through our innovative research, education and outreach activities. Please explore our website and contact us to learn how you can join us in our mission, we are always eager to form new partnerships. Indeed, this is a time like no other in which we are ready to help shepherd the world through the most important global issues of our time – indeed, it’s part and parcel our collective DNA at UC Davis.

Yours in service,

Benjamin Z. Houlton, PhD

Director, UC Davis Muir Institute

Professor and Chancellor’s Fellow of the Global Environment