Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI) was co-founded by Charles “Rick” Chappell and John Katzenberger in 1989 as the result of a planning workshop funded by NASA. At the workshop, experts considered the fledgling organization’s mission: to further interdisciplinary understanding of global environmental change and Earth system science. Until February 1995, when it became an independent nonprofit in its own right, AGCI operated under the nonprofit 501(c)(3) umbrella of the Windstar Foundation, an environmental organization co-founded by Tom Crum and John Denver. The Windstar board and its president, John Denver, enthusiastically supported the concept of AGCI and its role of furthering environmental science in the service of society. Within a year of the planning workshop, in June of 1990, AGCI established a scientific advisory board and began full operations. Its first interdisciplinary workshop, on the emerging field of global change science, spanned three weeks in July and August, with 38 participants joining from three countries. Talks and discussions focused on the nexus of social and physical science in understanding global-scale change, from atmospheric chemistry and climate change to human population dynamics, biodiversity, and changes to the land surface. As part of the inaugural workshop, a group of nationally recognized educators participated for part of the first summer to explore the educational opportunities offered by global change science.