About the Western Center

The Western Center for Social Impact and Innovation works at the intersections of science and social justice and impact to engage Miami and the surrounding community in problem-solving for some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. Western Center programming includes academic courses and co-curricular opportunities such as lectures and service learning experiences. The center operates as a nexus for engagement with local, national, and global problems. The center connects diverse students, faculty, alumni, experts, and community leaders to explore both public and private sector solutions.

The Western Center uses biennial themes, to help focus its programming. Through spring of 2021 the theme is water, which includes topics related to water access, policy, security, and climate change's impact on every aspect.

By maintaining a focus on the intersection between social impact and science, the center helps to facilitate the strong interdisciplinary legacy of the college. The Western College for Women and the Western College Program have a long legacy of engagement and activism and a commitment to civil rights, international education, and leadership development. By combining with the existing individualized studies major, the Western Center for Social Impact and Innovation (Peabody Hall, Room 022) will strengthen Western's legacy of interdisciplinary study and global social impact for today's Miami students and future generations.

2019-2021 Theme: Water

A small plant grows out of a lightbulb filled with water.

Water is the Western Center's inaugural theme because it is the precondition to life on this planet. Water is at the intersections of so many socio-environmental challenges and needs around the globe.

The U.N.'s World Water Development Report (2015) stated that there will be a 55% increase in water demand over the subsequent 15 years, but resources will only meet 60% of the world's water needs.

"The vulnerable and disadvantaged, who are typically not connected to piped systems, suffer disproportionately from inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation services and often pay more for their water supply services than their connected counterparts." [2019 U.N.'s WWDR]

Our own neighbors in the Ohio Valley are among an estimated 2 million Americans that did not have consistent access to clean drinking water and basic indoor plumbing, according to a 2019 report. In short, a 2018 World Resources Institute report (Water, Security and Conflict) finds that "a wide range of water-related risks undermine human well-being and can contribute to political instability, violent conflict, human displacement and migration, and acute food insecurity, which in turn can undermine national, regional, and even global security."

The Western Center will provide a number of opportunities for faculty, students, and the broader community to engage the challenges of water access with a focus on real-world solutions that prioritize sustainability and equity.