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Indian American to lead new Stanford school on climate change

Internationally recognized Indian American energy expert Arun Majumdar will head the new Stanford University Doerr School of Sustainability, which has been funded with a $1.1 billion donation.

The School of Sustainability will launch this fall as Stanford’s first new school in 70 years, and it aims to tackle urgent climate and sustainability challenges, according to Stanford News. It will focus on three broad areas: Earth, Climate, and Society.

The school has received a $1.1 billion gift from John and Ann Doerr, the largest in the university’s history. Other people’s donations bring the school’s total to $1.69 billion, which will enable Stanford to create academic departments, interdisciplinary institutes, and a Sustainability Accelerator, all of which are meant to address the planet’s future.

Majmumdar will be the inaugural dean of this new school. He has vast experience in the fields of science and policy. Before joining Stanford, he worked for Google as vice president for energy, where he assembled a team to create technologies and businesses at the intersection of data, computing, and the electricity grid, American Kahani reports.

At Stanford, he is a professor of mechanical engineering, senior fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy, and co-chair of the George Shultz Energy and Climate Task Force. Additionally, he serves as chair of the advisory board to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. In fact, he was nominated for Under Secretary of Energy for six months in 2011-12 before the nomination was retracted, reports Asian Lite.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve as the inaugural dean,” said Majumdar to Stanford News. “As is often said, we do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. We must collectively figure out how to create a future in which humans and nature thrive together.”

The Standford administration praised Majumdar when discussing his new role.

“I am delighted that Arun is willing to serve as inaugural dean of the Doerr School of Sustainability,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne told Stanford News. “This new school is a critical part of Stanford’s focus on amplifying our impact in the world. He is an accomplished scholar who appreciates the importance of fundamental research to generate knowledge with transformative potential. And his exceptional leadership skills along with his deep experience in both industry and government will help the school have immediate impact in the world.”

The unprecedented creation of the school and Majumdar’s appointment as head of it may signify a shift in academia to explicitly prioritize environmental research and intersectionality in facing climate change. This educational shift mirrors a societal one that began years ago. Other prominent universities may soon follow suit.

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