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Our History

Founding the Institute

1989 AGCI planning workshop members pictured: Berrien Moore, Noel Brown, Jack Eddy, Bill Rawson, Ron Zee, Thomas Malone, Paul Risser, Richard Somerville, Rick Chappell, John Katzenberger, Cheryl Charles, Payson Stevens, and John Christy
1989 Planning Workshop and 1990-1991 Advisory Board Members

The Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI) was co-founded by Rick Chappell and John Katzenberger in 1989 as the result of a NASA funded planning workshop. At the workshop experts considered the fledgling organization’s mission – to further the interdisciplinary understanding of global environmental change and Earth system science. Until February 1995, when it became an independent non-profit in its own right, AGCI operated under the non-profit 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 AGCI established a scientific advisory board and began full operations in June of 1990. Its first interdisciplinary workshop spanned three weeks in July and August taking a broad look at the emerging field of global change science. Talks and discussions focused on the nexus of social and physical science in understanding global scale change from atmospheric chemistry, climate change, to human population dynamics, biodiversity, and changes to the land surface. A group of nationally recognized educators participated for part of the first summer to explore the educational opportunities offered by global change science.