What is the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine?

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.

What is the goal of this study?

The study will identify high priority societal challenges for the next several decades that will require the expertise of environmental engineering and science to resolve or manage.  The study will also address how the field of environmental engineering and science might evolve to better address these needs.   This study will be followed by an extensive dissemination period during which committee members will share and discuss the challenges identified with all those involved in environmental engineering and science—from practitioners to educators.

How will this study relate to the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges in Engineering?

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) released a list of Grand Challenges in Engineering in 2008. The findings have inspired numerous educational initiatives at all levels, including the undergraduate NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program aimed at creating engineers specially equipped to meet those goals. This new study will be informed by that work but will drill down more specifically into challenges related to the environment. The study is being done by the Division on Earth and Life Studies, which carries out the National Academies’ function of providing advice on national topics including atmospheric science, earth science, water science and technology, life science, environmental studies and toxicology, chemistry, and nuclear engineering.  Using the National Academies’ rigorous study process, experts with wide ranging expertise will be convened to identify grand challenges for environmental engineering and science for the next several decades.

How are committee members chosen?

The National Academies issues calls for nominations for committee members, seeking recognized experts from diverse disciplines and backgrounds.   Each committee must include the range of expertise and experience needed to address the study’s statement of task.   The overall composition of the committee is evaluated to make sure that points of view are reasonably balanced so that the committee can carry out its charge objectively and credibly. A provisional slate is posted for a 20-day comment period. Once approved by the President of the National Academy of Sciences, all committee members are screened for conflict of interest.

When does the committee meet?

The committee meets throughout the study process. Committee meeting dates will be posted on the website.

When will the study be completed?

The study is projected to be completed in early 2018.

Can the public attend committee meetings?

All meetings in which the committee gathers information are open to the public. All meetings will be streamed via web conference. They will also be recorded and posted to the study’s website.

Can I provide comments or information to the committee?

Yes. The public is also invited to present comments to the committee at information-gathering meetings, which will be announced via the website and the study email notifications. Members of the public may also submit written statements and relevant information to the committee via the study’s website throughout the course of the study. All written comments and submitted materials will be shared with committee members and placed in the study’s public access file.

Can I see the comments and information submitted to the committee?

Written materials submitted to a study committee by external sources are listed in the project’s public access file and can be made available to the public upon request. Contact the Public Access Records Office (PARO) for a copy of the list and to obtain copies of the materials. Copies of materials are free to the press and government employees. Please send an email or call PARO to make a request or an inquiry.

Public Access Records Office
The National Academies
Washington DC 20001
Tel: 202.334.3543
FAX: 202.334.2158
Email: paro@nas.edu

Normal business hours for PARO are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Will the results of the study be made available to the public?

Yes. An electronic version of the final report will be available to download for free at www.nap.edu upon completion of the study.

Where can I get more information about the National Academies study process?

More information about the NRC study process is available here

Please direct any inquiries to EESChallenges@nas.edu