School of Social Ecology

From eroding coastlines and flooding to poverty and homelessness to miscarriages of justice and the mental health crisis, the School of Social Ecology is uniquely positioned to solve some of the most pressing social and environmental problems impacting our region, the state and the world. Guided by our ethos “Science Driving Solutions,” we unite faculty and students from various disciplines – including psychology, criminology, law and society, public policy, and urban planning – and they work together within interdisciplinary research hubs.

We are focusing our UCI Brilliant Future campaign efforts on three targeted areas that best leverage our interdisciplinary expertise, address acute challenges, and have the greatest potential for lasting impact.

Stacy Skwarlo
Executive Director of Development

Funding Priorities


Public policy plays a critical role in the formulation of social, environmental, and criminal justice policy. It helps to set the goals and objectives of government, nonprofits and businesses and provides a framework for public decision making. The School of Social Ecology will be a leader in the Public Policy and Justice space through the following critical areas:

OC Poll: On a semiannual basis, the OC Poll will provide unimpeachable, reliable data in Orange County on salient issues of public concern. Rather than a static measure of public opinion, we will leverage the poll and UCI’s position in Orange County to engage leaders in business, government, and the community to discuss and apply the findings from the poll, seeking to ensure that the results are used to move Orange County forward.

Criminal Justice Reform: Our innovative approach to individuals facing incarceration and those incarcerated vastly reduces recidivism and the financial burden associated with incarceration. Young Adult Court is our innovative, research-based program turning first-time felony offenders into productive members of society through a two-year program of intensive rehabilitation, restitution, counseling and work apprenticeships, breaking the cycle of recidivism and keeping communities safe.


Pipeline Program: The UCI School of Social Ecology has a 50-year history of producing graduates who are uniquely prepared for career success thanks to our revolutionary Field Study program. We have bolstered these efforts with the creation of the Career PIPEline (Preparation in Postbaccalaureate Employment) program. The Career PIPEline will expand our preparatory services through comprehensive career preparation and network-building to ensure that undergraduate students develop competencies sought by employers.


We are facing an onslaught of complex mental health challenges like, coping with traumatic events, dealing with parenting stress, finding happiness, and regulating depression anxiety and healthy aging. Social Ecologists are exploring solutions for implementation in our communities to address these growing areas of concern.

The UCI Psychological Services Center: The UCI PSC is housed within the School of Social Ecology at UCI and, in addition to serving as a community resource for high-quality and low-cost psychotherapy, the PSC serves as the primary clinical training site for UCI doctoral students seeking their degree in clinical psychology. Doctoral student clinicians are closely supervised by licensed clinical psychologists with years of expertise in treating symptoms of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, psychotic disorders, and other mental health concerns.

Youth and Technology: Our children are being raised in an increasingly digital world and we’re left to fret about their health and safety. Our psychological science faculty examines the effect of technology on the mental health of young people to understand and improve their lives.

Healthy Aging: In less than 20 years, more than 1 in 5 people in the United States will be 65 years or older. Our research examines biological, psychosocial, and environment processes that allow older adults to live healthy and productive lives, and that provide a roadmap for younger and middle-adults as they grow into old age.


Sustainability in the School of Social Ecology reflects our commitment to environmental, social, and economic responsibility in all aspects of a society. It involves fostering a culture of sustainability among students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.

CUSP: Climate and Urban Sustainability Program (CUSP) researchers’ study and develop solutions to urban environmental problems such as maintaining coastal health, reducing flood risk, providing access to clean water and creating and maintaining safe communities and dignified housing

Water UCI: California and the West are facing an increasingly uncertain water future with the challenges of climate change, growing population densities and increased demand on an already overburdened water infrastructure. Water UCI convenes researchers from across campus to work with policymakers and practitioners addressing these deepening threats.

Environmental Science: An interdisciplinary program that integrates theories, analytical tools, and experiences from social and natural sciences to investigate the causes, prevalence, and consequences of environmental challenges and to develop approaches for addressing them.

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