The Earth Commons


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.

Research Goals

Explore our strategic plan to catalyze environmental scholarship across disciplines to innovate solutions for critical environmental issues

ECo Fellows

Apply for a post-doctoral research and teaching fellowship to advance the science on critical environmental issues

ECo Impact Awards

Apply for funding that empowers new interdisciplinary research and outreach

All, Scholarship

Mitigating climate disruption in time: A self-consistent approach for avoiding both near-term and long-term global warming

This study clarifies the need for comprehensive CO2 and non-CO2 mitigation approaches to address both near-term and long-term warming. Pairing decarbonization with mitigation measures targeting non-CO2 pollutants is essential for limiting not only the near-term (next 25 y) warming but also the 2100 warming below 2 °C.

May 23, 2022

All, Scholarship

Climate change increases cross-species viral transmission risk

Climate and land use change will produce novel opportunities for viral sharing among previously geographically-isolated species of wildlife. In some cases, this will facilitate zoonotic spillover—a mechanistic link between global environmental change and disease emergence. Here, we simulate potential hotspots of future viral sharing.

April 28, 2022

All, Scholarship

A novel model to accurately predict continental-scale timing of forest green-up

The yearly cycles in vegetation greenness are among the most important drivers of ecosystem processes. Predictive models for the timing of vegetation greenup and senescence are crucial for understanding how biological communities respond to global change. Our method is generalizable to temperate forests across the globe and provides a basis for backcasting and forecasting forest greenup for any time periods where daily temperatures, whether directly measured or modeled, are available.

April 2, 2022

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.

Explore StoryMaps

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.” 

Learn more