Utrecht University research on climate change and ecosystems has greatest impact worldwide

Utrecht University’s sustainability research in the field of climate change and ecosystems has the greatest impact worldwide. That is the conclusion of a study conducted by Times Higher Education. Utrecht’s scientific publications in the category ‘Environmental Sciences’ between 2011 and 2015 score higher for citation impact than publications by universities such as Stanford and Harvard.

Times Higher Education, the institute that issues the annual World University Rankings, published an infographic on 24 November of the top-10 universities that provided the most-cited articles in the field of climate change and ecosystems for the period from 2011 to 2015. Utrecht University was at the top of the list.

Source: Elsevier. Click for larger image

Interdisciplinary victory

“It is a shared success by the university’s researchers, based on Utrecht’s strong position in interdisciplinary research”, explains Detlef van Vuuren, environmental scientist at Utrecht University and author of the most-cited articles. “The list consists of publications by a number of research groups at Utrecht University; often in cooperation with outside institutes, such as the NIOZ, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and other universities.”

Van Vuuren was a co-author of the most-cited publications upon which the list was based His article: The representative concentration pathways: An overview was cited more than 1,000 times in other scientific articles, and the publication: The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300 was cited more than 700 times. That put him head and shoulders above other publications, which were cited an average of 100-250 times.

Sustainability research

All of the research on the list falls within the research theme Sustainability, one of Utrecht University’s four research themes. “We are extremely proud to see what an impact our sustainability research has”, says Piet Hoekstra, Dean of the Faculty of Geosciences. “It shows how much we can achieve through interdisciplinary cooperation.”

Two spots in the top-10

The United States does well in the list, with Stanford University holding 2nd place and Harvard University in 4th. But with Wageningen University & Research (7th place), the Netherlands also holds two spots in the top 10.

Sustainability at Utrecht University

Sustainability research at Utrecht University is exceptionally strong, spanning many different disciplinary fields, including the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. In 2017, Utrecht University launched Pathways to Sustainability, promoting interdisciplinary research within these academic disciplines and transdisciplinary approaches with external partners to take up an active role in furthering a more sustainable society. With rigor meets relevance as a guiding principle, Pathways to Sustainability pursues novel approaches in close interaction with governance, business and the scientific community.

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Pathways to Sustainability