We assemble diverse, interdisciplinary teams of faculty, external experts and students to collaborate on the world’s greatest environmental and sustainability challenges and turn research into action for the common good. Our research isn’t restricted to the lab: we are transforming Georgetown’s campus into a living laboratory where we develop urgently-needed, scalable solutions to green the campus and broader community—and shape the future of our planet.

The Vision

The Earth Commons will consist of thematic “Commons” with dedicated faculty and staff and convene internal and external researchers, academics, experts, practitioners and students to understand and address each theme. The Commons will include Climate & Energy; Food & Water Security; Environmental Justice; Biodiversity Conservation; Environmental Health; University Sustainability; and the Environmental Innovation Lab, a campus think tank.

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Dr. Brian Griffiths, “Hunter territoriality creates refuges for threatened primates”

ECo Faculty Dr. Griffiths’ new paper explores how the combination of territoriality and selection against primates creates refuges, mitigating the effects of sustained hunting pressure and contributing to the conservation of these species.

March 3, 2023

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Dr. Marcus King, “Weaponizing Water: Water Stress and Islamic Extremist Violence in Africa and the Middle East”

Drought, lack of access, poor quality … water supplies are in jeopardy across Africa and the Middle East. These same areas are rife with conflicts involving Islamic extremist groups. Marcus King explores linkages between water stress and violent conflict by looking closely at how ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al-Shabaab in Somalia have weaponized water in the pursuit of political ends.

February 27, 2023

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Isolating Microplastics from Biofilm Communities: Connecting Project-Based Learning & Research

While there is not yet a standardized and validated methodology for characterizing microplastics, the protocol developed in this study uses methods for isolating and observing microplastics and for the investigation of how they interact with organisms present in biofilms from urban waterways.

February 7, 2023

Research Programs

Below is a list of research programs related to the work of the Earth Commons. Check back on this page for a more comprehensive list of research programs exploring environmental and sustainability issues across Georgetown Schools.

Marra Lab

Director Peter Marra’s research uses birds to help us define and understand broad environmental issues, tackling contemporary conservation challenges by addressing fundamental knowledge gaps at the intersection of ornithology, ecology and conservation biology. The Marra Lab in Georgetown’s Department of Biology investigates migratory connectivity, full annual cycle ecology, urban ecology & applied conservation, Kirtland’s Warbler conservation & management, and identifies the smoking guns in bird declines.

Research Projects

Migratory Connectivity

Advancing the conservation and understanding of animals throughout their full life cycle by promoting the science of migratory connectivity.

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Atlas of Migratory Connectivity

Through the Migratory Connectivity Project, led by Georgetown University and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and together with the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we are working on an important and exciting two volume book entitled “Discovering Unknown Migrations: The Atlas of Migratory Connectivity for the Birds of North America.” 

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