Our Mission

The Coastal Sustainability Institute focuses on creating cleaner, safer, smarter coastal communities. We are committed to uncovering new ways to adapt to and mitigate threats at the land-sea interface, including sea-level rise and storm surge, collapsing fisheries, and coastal pollution.

Our multidisciplinary approach drives this mission. Our faculty members study critical ecosystems, working at the scientific, technological, societal, and policy levels to turn discoveries into solutions. They partner with colleagues across campus and around the world, including industry, nonprofits, and government agencies—examining not only important scientific questions, but also how the answers to those questions influence community perceptions and government policies related to protecting coastal resources.

CSI’s collaborative research focuses on coastal communities that are particularly susceptible to threats such us rampant pollution, extreme weather, and loss of biodiversity. Our researchers take a multipronged approach to solve these and other coastal problems—utilizing environmental sensing, leveraging climate change science and modeling, and finding new ways to secure and sustain coastal resources.

CSI’s home in Nahant, Massachusetts—located just 16 miles north of Boston—offers the opportunity to study coastal habitats firsthand. Our experts have access to shoreline, a research center with state-of-the-art labs and equipment, and an extensive repository of marine species for genomic studies.

CSI’s collaborative research focuses on coastal communities that are particularly susceptible to threats such as rampant pollution, extreme weather, and loss of biodiversity.

An important part of our mission is to build the next generation of coastal sustainability experts. In addition to the degrees offered by Northeastern in marine and environmental science, CSI is developing a doctoral program in coastal sustainability. CSI also provides internships, co-ops (positions in Northeastern’s signature experimental learning program), and research positions for undergraduate and graduate students interested in an array of coastal sustainability careers.

How We Began

Studying and protecting coastal ecosystems has been part of Northeastern’s ethos for half a century.

In 1967, the university opened the Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachussetts—one of the first such research centers in the United States. Over time, the university added new degrees and course offerings, recruited premier faculty, invested in advanced research equipment, and modernized MSC’s labs spaces to encourage scientific discovery and collaboration.

In 2012, Northeastern broadened its marine science focus by launching an initiative powered by multi- and interdisciplinary research. By integrating natural and social science, engineering, and public policy, the initiative aimed to create knowledge and tools to help coastal communities respond to climate change and other threats.

By establishing the Coastal Sustainability Institute, Northeastern furthers its commitment to create resilient coastal communities. CSI researchers leverage the resources at the Marine Science Center and collaborate with partners worldwide to develop real-world solutions to coastal threats.