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NIPP Chapter 10: Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment
This document outlines Chapter 10 of the Nelson Institute Policies and Procedures (NIPP) as approved by the Governance Committee on April 19, 2021.
Societies around the world face critical environmental problems that will affect the quality of human life for decades and centuries to come. Solving these problems, in many cases, will require interdisciplinary research to help us understand how the Earth's complex environmental systems function and how they respond to human activity. Solutions will also require better integration of research results into public policy, with the ultimate goal of managing our planet's natural resources—the air, water, land and biological diversity upon which all life depends—sustainably.
The Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE) is dedicated to improving environmental stewardship. We use our strengths in systems analysis to study interactions between ecosystems, natural resources, and human activity at local, regional, and global scales. Through research, education and outreach, SAGE helps individuals and leaders in business, government, and education to make informed decisions and policies.
- SAGE fosters interdisciplinary methods and collaboration, especially drawing from the physical sciences, public health, and policy analysis. We develop state-of-the-art scientific methods and data, and use them to address policy-relevant environmental, energy, and health challenges. In the process, SAGE helps to train the next generation of environmental scientists in cutting-edge research, education, and outreach.
- Research. SAGE has developed an agile structure to promote and facilitate our research. SAGE:
- acts as an incubator for interdisciplinary research with a quantitative focus.
- establishes links between policy needs and scientific research.
- develops and employs global and regional data and models to inform decision-making needs.
- Education. SAGE strengthens the Nelson Institute’s instructional programs through offerings focused on sustainability of the global environment. SAGE:
- supports the teaching activities of SAGE faculty, in both graduate and undergraduate courses.
- trains students in environmental systems analysis, modeling, remote sensing, and geospatial technologies.
- serves as a research “hub” for graduate students in interdisciplinary programs—especially those in the Nelson Institute Environment & Resources program.
- Outreach. SAGE exemplifies the Wisconsin Idea by providing important environmental information and assessment to school and adult populations, public officials, non-governmental organizations, and businesses. SAGE:
- provides cutting-edge environmental datasets and information services.
- creates “value-added” environmental information in collaboration with industry, non-governmental organizations, and government partners.
- produces the Weston Roundtable speaker series, which draws a community of 50-60 participants from UW–Madison and the general public every Thursday during the academic year.
- Research. SAGE has developed an agile structure to promote and facilitate our research. SAGE:
10.04. SAGE is a research center of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. It is administered by the Nelson Institute, in cooperation with the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, the LaFollette School of Public Affairs, the School of Medicine & Public Health, the Department of Geography and other University of Wisconsin-Madison colleges and administrative units.
10.05. SAGE projects include research and outreach initiatives addressing problems that stem from interactions between environmental systems, natural resources, and human activity. These projects are conducted partially or fully at SAGE with associated support from SAGE and Nelson Institute central staff.
10.06. SAGE DIRECTOR
- The Director manages the overall research, educational and administrative operations of the Center, and works in close consultation with SAGE Administrators and the Investigators Council (IC).
- The Director is appointed by and reports directly to the Dean of the Nelson Institute for a term of three years.
- The Director may consult with individual SAGE Faculty, Administrators, Students, and Post-Docs, groups thereof, and/or the Nelson Institute Director to ensure that decisions advance SAGE’s research, education, and outreach activities.
10.07. SAGE FACULTY MEMBERS
- SAGE faculty members are University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty members in any university department who conduct all or a significant part of their regular research activities at SAGE facilities and participate actively in the SAGE community.
- SAGE faculty are expected to serve as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on Center research projects, and to support the broader educational and outreach activities of the Center, including advising students, teaching courses related to SAGE research themes, and participating in the Weston Roundtable.
- This relationship involves significant resource allocation (space, computing support, etc.), and core SAGE faculty are expected to allocate a significant component (≥20%) of their UW–Madison activities to SAGE projects.
- Current UW–Madison faculty members interested in joining the SAGE faculty for a term of three years should contact the Director, who will review the request in consultation with the IC and in view of available resources, potential contributions to SAGE activities, and relevance of the candidate’s research to SAGE’s mission.
- Current SAGE faculty who wish to reduce their involvement with the Center should contact the Director for assistance with this transition.
10.08. SAGE SCIENTISTS
- SAGE scientists are University of Wisconsin–Madison academic staff scientists (including social scientists and policy analysts) serving as principal investigator or co-principal investigator on a SAGE research project during the previous three years. In support of these projects, SAGE scientists typically conduct all or part of their regular research activities at SAGE facilities and participate actively in the SAGE community.
- This relationship involves significant resource allocation (space, computing support, etc.), and core SAGE Scientists are expected to allocate a major component (≥50%) of their UW–Madison activities to SAGE Projects.
- Current UW–Madison academic staff interested in becoming a SAGE scientist for a term of three years should contact the Director, who will review the request in consultation with the IC and Nelson Institute Director, and in view of available resources, potential contributions to SAGE activities, and relevance of candidate’s research to SAGE’s mission.
- Current SAGE scientists who wish to reduce their involvement with the Center should contact the Director for assistance with this transition.
10.09. The SAGE Investigators Council (IC) acts as the basic representative body of the center, and will help the Director guide long-term research, outreach, and educational strategies. In addition, the Director may ask the IC for advice on administrative decisions. SAGE faculty and SAGE scientists will be considered members of the IC. The Director may, in consultation with the IC, choose to add additional ex-officio members.
10.10. SAGE administrators are academic and university staff members who support the pre-award and post-award processes of SAGE projects, including grant proposal submission, accounting, information technology (IT) support, appointments, travel logistics and reimbursements. Administrators also assist with SAGE events including the Weston Roundtable, and with general management of the SAGE office space.
10.11. SAGE post-docs are post-doctoral researchers (“Research Associates”) advised, or significantly co-advised, by SAGE faculty members or scientists.
10.12. SAGE research interns are post-bachelors or post-masters employees who are hired by SAGE faculty members or scientists to work on SAGE projects.
10.13. SAGE graduate students are M.S. and Ph.D. students advised by SAGE faculty and scientists and working on SAGE research/outreach projects. In some circumstances, students working on SAGE research/outreach projects may have an advisor outside the Center. SAGE faculty determine which students will be based at SAGE in light of the student’s research project, available space, and other resources. All efforts will be made to provide shared office space for SAGE graduate students. Provision of computing resources is the responsibility of each student’s supporting SAGE faculty member or scientist.
10.14. SAGE undergraduate students work on research with SAGE faculty and Scientists and/or work on an hourly basis in support of SAGE administrative or computational activities.
10.15. SAGE affiliates are individuals at UW–Madison who manage SAGE research projects, advise SAGE students, participate actively in SAGE research, education, or outreach activities, and/or share a significant intellectual connection with the Center’s activities. SAGE affiliates are invited by the Director in consultation with the IC, with a three-year term. Student and post-doctoral affiliates must be endorsed by a SAGE faculty member or scientist. Current or projected activities associated with affiliate appointments must be identified in the invitation letter. Affiliate rights and responsibilities are outlined below.
10.16. SAGE Honorary Fellows are individuals not otherwise affiliated with UW–Madison who create mutual benefit for SAGE and themselves by cooperating with SAGE personnel on scholarly and outreach activities. These activities and their term (usually one or two years) must be identified in an invitation letter to the prospective fellow. Often, Honorary Fellows are former SAGE students or post-docs. SAGE will provide Honorary Fellows with email and library privileges, and with desk space as available.
10.17. VOTING PROCEDURES
- For all voting, majority is defined as a simple majority of the voting quorum. Quorum is defined as two-thirds of the SAGE Investigators Council.
- At the end of the Director’s three-year term, he or she will appoint another member of the SAGE IC to conduct the election of the next Director. This appointee will request nominations of SAGE IC Members willing to serve, and the IC will vote to elect or reelect a Director. The election will be conducted by paper or electronic ballot or email. All ballots will be retained for at least one year. The IC’s vote will serve as a recommendation to the Nelson Institute Dean.
- The SAGE Investigators Council votes on changes to the SAGE Governance Document, as overseen by the SAGE Director. The vote will be conducted by paper or electronic ballot or email. All ballots will be retained for at least one year.
10.18. RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES OF SAGE FACULTY & SCIENTISTS
- They may refer to themselves as members of SAGE, and list “The Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)” as an affiliation on SAGE-related publications, presentations, and public outreach activities. They are encouraged to use the SAGE and Nelson Institute logos on presentations and posters.
- They will be listed on relevant SAGE publications, including the SAGE website and promotional materials. Publications, media coverage, and honors would be posted on the SAGE website, and included in relevant center outreach and promotional activities.
- Space permitting, they will be given an office in SAGE facilities, and may utilize common spaces (seminar room, conference room, computer classroom) for teaching and research activities, following the guidelines of use set forth by the Enzyme Institute building manager.
- They may request shared office space for their students, trainees, and employees. Priority will be given as follows:
- Individuals supported on SAGE projects.
- Teaching assistants working with the SAGE computer classroom, or otherwise recommended by their supervising professor.
- Individuals funded through other sources but collaborating closely with SAGE colleagues. Student office space is not guaranteed, depending on availability.
- They and their SAGE research assistants will have access to the SAGE Information Technology (IT) support system. Support is available for the purchase, configuration, maintenance, and repair of Macintosh computers and peripherals, both for desktop and research computing needs. Support is also available for Windows-based personal computers (PCs) to run specialized PC-only software such as ArcView GIS, Microsoft Access, and other programs as needed to support SAGE research.
- They and their SAGE research assistants will have access to supplies, fax, photocopying and printing resources, following guidelines for use set forth by the SAGE administrators, IT Manager, and Director.
- They will receive support for proposal preparation and grant management (including assistance with budget preparation, formatting, submission procedures, and visual graphics). Requests for these services must be coordinated with SAGE IT and administrative staff, and availability will depend on providing adequate prior notice, and on other obligations of staff.
- They will be invited to attend and participate in SAGE-sponsored seminars and informal SAGE-wide social events.
10.19. OBLIGATIONS OF SAGE FACULTY & SCIENTISTS
- They are expected to include “The Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)” as an affiliation on publications, presentations, and public outreach activities from SAGE-funded projects. They are encouraged to include the SAGE and Nelson Institute logos on other presentations and posters.
- They will be asked to utilize their SAGE office on a regular basis, so as to participate fully in the SAGE community. They should also encourage their research assistants to utilize their office space regularly.
- They will be asked to attend the weekly SAGE-sponsored Weston Roundtable as often as possible in light of work schedule and teaching obligations. SAGE students and post-docs should also be encouraged to participate in this important component of our intellectual community. SAGE faculty are encouraged to schedule classes and other meetings to avoid conflict with the Roundtable and other major SAGE events.
- They will be asked to submit announcements of news coverage, honors and awards, and publications (submitted, accepted, and/or published) to the SAGE IT Manager and SAGE Director for inclusion on the website and in relevant promotional materials.
- They may be asked to take a leadership or supporting role in the administrative, outreach, or teaching activities of the center, including coordination of the weekly Weston Roundtable seminar series (and/or instructional duties for the associated for-credit seminar), award and review committees, and ad hoc committees to support outreach projects. They may also be asked to represent SAGE on broader UW committees, or to present on behalf of the center to public and academic audiences.
- They will be considered part of the SAGE Investigator’s Council, and will be asked to attend IC meetings (approximately one per semester), and to respond to informal requests from the Director for guidance and feedback on decision-making relevant to the center.
- They will be considered SAGE staff and will be asked to attend staff meetings (approximately three per year).
- They will be expected to procure external research funding, with proposals submitted through SAGE/Nelson to the extent appropriate in light of their appointment across campus units, research program needs, and utilization of shared SAGE resources. As part of the direct costs associated with SAGE research, proposal budgets should include salary support for the SAGE IT Manager (not to exceed the needs of the project).
- They will be expected to procure funding for desktop computers for all SAGE graduate students and post-docs under their supervision, and to the degree possible by available non-government funding and permissible by University grant administration guidelines, for themselves. Individuals needing desktop computers or recommending the purchase of shared peripherals ineligible for direct grant funding should discuss needs with the Director, who will authorize purchases in light of available resources and equipment needs. Undergraduate students and short-term graduate research/project assistants will typically use computers in the computer classroom (when the space is not otherwise reserved for classes).
10.20. RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES OF SAGE AFFILIATES
- They may refer to themselves as an “Affiliate Faculty/Scientist of the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE)” or “SAGE Affiliate.” They may include the SAGE and Nelson Institute logos on presentations and posters.
- They will be listed on the SAGE website and relevant promotional materials.
- They are welcome to utilize common spaces, including the Reading Room as an informal drop-in workspace, and the Seminar Room or Conference Room for planned meetings (both must be reserved). Shared office space may be provided as needed and as resources permit to facilitate collaboration and community participation.
- They are eligible to use the SAGE computer classroom for teaching and research activities and may submit requests for use to the SAGE Director. If computer classroom usage necessitates specialized software or other customization, the SAGE affiliate may be responsible for associated expenses. Affiliates should submit any request to use the computer classroom well in advance of the expected semester that teaching will occur for set up and testing purposes.
- Space permitting, they may request shared office space for graduate students and post-doctoral associates supported on SAGE projects.
- They may request access to the SAGE Information Technology (IT) support system. Such support would be coordinated on a case-by-case basis, in light of research needs and available resources.
- They will have access to support for proposal preparation and grant management (including assistance with budget preparation, formatting, submission procedures, and visual graphics), for proposals submitted through SAGE/Nelson Institute. Activities carried out under grants administered through SAGE have access to the full suite of resources available to SAGE faculty and scientists. Requests for these services must be coordinated with SAGE IT and administrative staff, and availability will depend on providing adequate prior notice, and on other obligations of staff.
- They will be invited to attend and participate in the SAGE-sponsored seminars, and informal SAGE-wide social events.
10.21. OBLIGATIONS OF SAGE AFFILIATES
- They are expected to contribute in a meaningful way to SAGE research, outreach, and/or teaching. This contribution will vary from person to person and should be specified in the appointment letter.
- They are appointed to a three-year term. It is the responsibility of affiliates to request status renewal, and to articulate their role in SAGE activities.
10.22. SHARED FUNDING AT SAGE
- The Nelson Institute has historically returned to SAGE a generous portion of the indirect funds that are awarded through SAGE’s competitive grant proposals. This “overhead return” money is pooled and shared for various needs of the center, especially needs that cannot normally be funded directly by federal sponsors, such as support staff salaries, computer hardware and software, office repairs and furniture, etc.
- Spending of these shared funds is the responsibility of the Director, in consultation with the SAGE IC and Administrators. There is no precedent or expectation that any individual researcher can keep the overhead return from their funded SAGE projects.