Our Mission

The mission of the Energy and Resources Group is a sustainable environment and a just society.

ERG is a col­lab­o­ra­tive com­mu­nity of grad­u­ate stu­dents, core fac­ulty, nearly 200 affil­i­ated fac­ulty and researchers across the cam­pus, and over 600 alumni across the globe. Our stu­dents work­ across dis­ci­plines and depart­ments to cre­ate poten­tially trans­for­ma­tive knowl­edge for the planet. ERG is a world-renowned pro­gram with a 50-year his­tory of out­stand­ing research, edu­ca­tion and outreach to gov­ern­ment, indus­try, and civil soci­ety at the state, national and inter­na­tional levels.

Picture of graduate students and faculty on steps of Giannini Hall.

core faculty

grad students



The ERG Impact

With its five-decade his­tory of trans­for­ma­tive teach­ing and research, the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) has reframed eco­log­i­cal and social prob­lems in terms that bor­row from, and yet can be under­stood across, many tra­di­tion­ally sep­a­rate dis­ci­pli­nary cul­tures. The ERG model com­bines a rig­or­ous core cur­riculum, a shared learn­ing environment, and the free­dom to access the entire Berke­ley fac­ulty. The core cur­ricu­lum pro­vides stu­dents with relevant ana­lyt­i­cal tools from ecol­ogy, eco­nom­ics, engi­neer­ing and the social sci­ences. ERG research is strongly evidence-based and hypothesis-driven; its inter­dis­ci­pli­nary culture equally encourages student? and faculty?led research. The value of such a cul­ture is hard to quan­tify: it has evolved through the commitment to systemic thinking, and the vision of a just and sustainable planet, over generations of ERGies.

Our Programs

ERG’s programs include:

  • Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Energy and Resources)
  • Master’s Degree (2-year M.S. or M.A. in Energy and Resources)
  • Concurrent ERG/Public Policy Master’s Degree (3-year M.P.P and M.S. or M.A. in Energy and Resources)
  • Concurrent ERG Master’s/Law J.D. Degree
  • Undergraduate Minor in Energy and Resources
  • Sustainability Summer Minor/Certificate

To learn more about our programs, please click here.

ERG’s History

For fifty years, the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at the University of California, Berkeley has provided its outstanding graduate students and exceptional faculty the scholarly conditions in which to:

  • study the environmental sciences,
  • analyze the social causes of our energy and environmental problems,
  • undertake field research in a variety of ecosystems,
  • engage in cross cultural learning, and
  • devise technical and policy alternatives to unsustainable energy and resource use patterns.

The Berkeley Campus offers exceptional opportunities to learn from outstanding scholars in many disciplines. ERG facilitates the placement of specialized knowledge into the larger integrated perspective. Students and faculty incorporating one another’s insights, work on alternative energy technologies, ecological economics, terrestrial ecology, environmental justice, resource conflicts, and society and technology. ERG and the term “activist-scholar” are closely associated: Faculty and students alike are motivated by current and foreseeable problems and are encouraged to take what they learn into the full range of educational, political, and policy processes. In this highly interactive academic environment, feasible paths to social justice, appropriate technologies and ecological integrity begin to emerge.

ERG traces its origins to the Committee on Energy and Resources, which was established in November 1972 under the chairmanship of electrical engineering professor C. K. Birdsall as an Advisory Committee to the then Vice-Chancellor Mark N. Christensen. The Committee laid the groundwork for an interdisciplinary program of teaching and research in energy and resources and secured for this purpose the first regular faculty position in Berkeley’s history to reside entirely in an interdisciplinary unit. John P. Holdren (emeritus) was appointed to fill that position, as Assistant Professor in the Energy and Resources Program, in summer 1973. The program attained degree-granting status as a Graduate Group in late 1974, and admitted its first graduate students in 1975. 

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