Why Water? Why Ohio State?


The Global Water Institute uses the same systems approach to tackle three major global water challenges.


The issues

  • Wells to Wellness: Improving sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene access in developing countries
  • Field to Faucet: Delivering new systems solutions for harmful algal blooms
  • C(ity) to Sea (in development): New approaches for resilient coastal communities

Seeking smarter sustainable solutions

As big as the world’s water challenges are, they haven’t always been matched with the full suite of what our best R&D capabilities can offer. Both water-related philanthropy and federal research funding often address only a part of the problem, and only for a short time. That’s where the GWI comes in–it’s a new model of R&D that attempts to capture the opportunity gaps between technical solutions, local stakeholder engagement, research and advocacy.

Why Ohio State?

As one of the largest universities in the U.S., Ohio State is a one-stop shop for expertise in diverse areas–water engineering, rural community development, agriculture, energy storage, health innovation, supply chain management, many more—delivered through research, education and outreach/engagement platforms.

  • Land-grant mission: A proud history of research for the real world and listening instead of talking
  • Global reach: Three global Gateways and major research and teaching efforts on seven continents
  • Outstanding students and faculty: Leading producer of Fulbright awardees, Peace Corps volunteers
  • An institutional commitment: major internal funding for new models of solutions-oriented interdisciplinary research and education

But it’s not about us

Covering all of the pieces that matter—water, food, energy, health—is too much for any one organization to handle effectively. We get that. That’s why the GWI is a neutral technology integrator, delivering sustainable solutions from the best ideas around—not just the ones we happen to have on campus. We collaborate with other universities, industry, non-profits and agencies both in the US and internationally. By integrating the expertise of our faculty, the ingenuity of our students, and the global reach of our partners, the GWI delivers sustainable solutions with long-term impact.

How we are different

  • Requirements-driven: GWI projects respond to the needs of end users (“what do you need?” instead of “here’s what we do”)
  • Globally relevant: Aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals, UN Global Compact Principles, World Business Council for Sustainable Development Action 2020 Priority Areas, among others
  • Lasting impact: GWI supports locally owned and operated projects (often women-owned) for lasting economic, social, and environmental impact
  • Business-oriented: GWI integrates innovative business models into solutions where possible
  • Handhelds for progress: GWI stabilizes technological and business solutions by delivering mobile-based technical support, training and tools
  • A new funding model: 80% of project funding goes directly to the project; 10% goes to related R&D; only 10% goes to overhead.

What solutions-oriented means

  • Solutions-oriented research: Targeted investigations to discover, implement or sustain solutions to water resource issues.
  • Solutions-oriented education: Teaching students, training workers to innovate sustainable ways of handling our water resources—including in other sectors like agriculture, renewable energy, business and public health
  • Solutions-oriented outreach/engagement: We have a word for that: Extension. Ohio State has had 145 years to get good at putting the best minds to work on the problems faced by the citizens of Ohio. Now we are shaping the land-grant university of the future—working with partners to tackle the problems faced by millions or billions of people worldwide.