Wall graphic in NORC offices
NORC staff in the hallway in the Chicago office
Kayaking Closed Laptop Open Hands Academic Research Center Research Scientist


Reconciling our standard of living and booming demand for growth with the scarcity of resources and pollution emissions is one of the most difficult and urgent challenges of our time.  Environmental concerns comprise a broad spectrum of issues, including climate change, waste and land management, environmental health, and social disparities, each of which have implications for national security, the economy, and public health. 

Environmental concerns are varied and many.  At NORC, we have classified these concerns into two focus areas – Environmental Ecology and Environmental Health.  These focus areas reflect the expertise, skills, and experience of several NORC research departments.  Further, they provide the foundation by which NORC experts work both together and individually to address critical issues regarding the environment, including sustainability, climate change, natural resource management, pollutant sources and transport, exposure science, and environmental epidemiology. 

Our current work continues a rich tradition of high quality and inter-disciplinary environmental research at NORC.  NORC began work in environmental research in the early 1950s focusing on the relationship between communities and the environment with numerous studies of natural disasters and later of the impact of jet noise on communities. This work expanded to include research supporting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in numerous studies of human exposure and disease around the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites.  Today, NORC continues to perform environmentally-focused research, as we work with the American Red Cross to develop a system to measure, evaluate, and improve community resiliency; with a small environmental sciences firm to evaluate a new method of immobilizing lead in soil; with the National Institutes of Health to examine the impact of the environment on children’s health and well-being in the National Children’s Study (NCS); and with the U.S. Department of Energy’s, Energy Information Agency to conduct the Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Our work in the environment is supported and enhanced from additional expertise in statistics, regulation, healthcare, information technology, international development, and behavioral psychology. Through these combined resources, NORC offers an inter-disciplinary and creative approach to environmental problem solving.

Specific areas of expertise include:

Representative Projects

Argonne National Laboratory Impact Evaluation. In collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory senior leadership, SEE is objectively evaluating the impact of Argonne’s scientific and technological research for multiple stakeholders within and beyond the Chicago area. More

Kenya Urban Program Baseline Study. The World Bank has contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to undertake a baseline study of the demographic, infrastructure, and economic profile of 15 Kenyan municipalities. More

Lead in Soil Immobilization Pilot. The Security, Energy, and Environment (SEE) department is subcontracting with Carnow, Conibear, and Associates (CCA) on a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). The project objective is to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in children by developing an inexpensive, commercially viable treatment which permanently reduces soluable (bioavailable) lead levels in soil.  More


Press Release New Survey On Americans’ Views On Papal Encyclical On Climate Change More
Posted: 8.19.2015 1:43PM
News The Washington Post: Studies of the GSS provide insight into American views and habits around environmentalism More
Posted: 6.18.2015 12:50PM
News Forbes: How Americans prioritize environmental priorities according to NORC data and findings More
Posted: 3.6.2013 2:48PM
News TODAY: American energy habits, with insight from NORC's Jennifer Benz More
Posted: 6.8.2012 3:31PM
Press Release Joseph S. Broz, Ph.D., Appointed NORC Senior Fellow More
Posted: 12.8.2011 2:51PM


Jeffrey Hackett

(312) 759-4266

Michael Davern

(312) 357-3770