Building a Future in a Changing World

Integrated Research Uncovers Global Population and Environmental Trends

Our Partnership

Understanding the relationship between human development patterns and the natural environment is a critical facet in the conversation around population increases, climate change and other global processes. By defining and exploring the different stressors placed on the global environment, researchers at DU and Colorado School of Mines discovered the effects of human growth and expansion on ecosystems and learned to better design impactful policy, environmental and diplomatic solutions.

About Our Research

We leverage cross-institutional collaboration to address some of today’s most pressing challenges, producing interdisciplinary solutions that influence policymakers to effectively serve the public good. From Stanford to UChicago to NYU, we’ve refined our collaborative process through years of mutually beneficial relationships with institutions nationwide to understand and address challenges like climate change, HIV and youth homelessness.

DU’s current research efforts have been featured in news outlets like The New York Times. They include…

  • exploring the effects of felony disenfranchisement.
  • employing lasers as the medium for quantum science.
  • using theatre to heal and rehabilitate inmates.

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About the Research

Across several projects and publications, researchers from the University of Denver, the Colorado School of Mines and other institutions sought to enhance the general understanding of how accurate population projections—specifically those at the intermediate to local levels (for example, individual U.S. states)—can be crucial in developing strategies to fight global climate change.

By working to refine existing models and build new measures that provide a more detailed and precise representation of population changes, the researchers hoped to expand knowledge of how differing urbanization patterns and strategies in different locations impact essential benchmarks for measuring the effects of climate change. 

In particular, researchers including DU's Brian O'Neill and scholars from the Colorado School of Mines focused on updating the NCAR Community Demographic Model (CDM), which explores and defines urbanization trends in global communities. The new model (CDM-Urbanization Projection Model) refines the previous version by incorporating more historical data points, as well as establishing methods of evaluating population and urbanization trends at the subnational level. This is particularly important in discovering the regional impact of urbanization and population growth on climate change, and will inform policy and development decisions as communities increasingly strive to combat the changing environment.

Discover Research at DU

Brian O'Neill

In addition to his role as a professor at the Korbel School of International Studies, Brian O'Neill serves as director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, where he studies human-environment interactions. Holding a PhD in Earth Systems Science from New York University, he focuses on the relationships between societal development and climate change, and has worked extensively with government organizations and research institutes toward a better understanding of how human systems can impact and be impacted by a global environment in rapid change.