USC Wrigley Institute changes name and branding to reflect its expanded mission

April 21, 2023, Kathryn Royster

The University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies is now the Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability (WIES), a renaming that reflects the institute’s long-term growth and expanded mission.

“The Wrigley institute’s new name is a timely reflection of its important leadership role in environmental and sustainability education and research both at Dornsife and at USC more broadly,” says Amber D. Miller, dean of USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

A History of Helping the Planet

WIES traces its beginnings to 1965, when USC broke ground on a marine research station on Santa Catalina Island, CA. Located on land donated to the university by Philip K. Wrigley, the marine station welcomed researchers and visitors interested in understanding and preserving Catalina Island’s unique marine ecology. The station became the Philip K. Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC) in 1990, after a series of gifts from William and Julie Wrigley led to the creation of the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies. The Wrigley Institute continues to receive generous support from the Wrigley family to this day.

From that point, the institute developed new programs held at WMSC; faculty awards, graduate fellowships, and other programs to support environmental research; and lectures and panels to engage the USC community on environmental topics. Between 1990 and 2020, however, WIES was still heavily focused on marine science, and for many people both within and beyond USC, the marine science center on Catalina Island was the Wrigley Institute.

The Wrigley institute’s new name is a timely reflection of its important leadership role in environmental and sustainability education and research both at Dornsife and at USC more broadly
Amber D. Miller, Dean, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Entering a New Era

That all began to change in 2020, as USC and Dornsife College sharpened their focus on sustainability in all its forms. Dr. Joe Árvai, an oceanographer-turned-behavioral psychologist, was appointed to lead WIES and began the task of guiding the institute into its next era.

“Both [USC President] Carol Folt and Amber Miller had a really exciting vision for how the Wrigley Institute could become a more integral part of our shared commitment to sustainability leadership in California and around the world,” Árvai says. “I could see on my first day that we had a deep bench of sustainability-focused talent, including an amazing interdisciplinary team within the Wrigley Institute. It made perfect sense to expand the institute’s focus so that it could better complement the other terrific work being done across USC and Dornsife.”

Since questions of environment and sustainability touch every aspect of our lives, and because they unfold in every corner of our planet, WIES has broadened its programs to include international research and to embrace a much wider array of disciplines across the natural and social sciences, humanities, and the arts. For instance, in 2021 the institute added an environmental communications internship to complement its natural and social science research internships. The 2023 Wrigley Institute Graduate Fellows cohort includes Dornsife Ph.D. students from the fields of chemistry, marine and environmental biology, English, history, psychology, economics, and more. Wrigley Institute faculty are conducting research in California and on every single continent. And WIES has added USC Dornsife’s Environmental Studies Program and a new online master’s degree in Sustainability Management, making the institute a degree-granting unit for the first time.

“It had been my family’s vision all along that the Wrigley Institute be home to internationally recognized educational and research programs that aim to address the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges,” Alison Wrigley says. “The institute’s new name, and its great progress over the last several years, reflect that vision.”

Julie Wrigley agrees. “Having watched the progress of the Wrigley Institute over nearly five decades, it has been amazing to see the changes brought about over the last few years under the leadership of Amber Miller and Joe Árvai,” she says. “When it comes to sustainability research, education, and engagement, they have led the Wrigley Institute into the twenty-first century.”

New Look, New Day

cardinal-and-gold graphic of a sun rising over a wave that flows into a large "W," surrounded by trees and a riverAltogether, the USC Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability now encompasses:

  • The Wrigley Marine Science Center, home to new residential programs, such as May and July semesters where students explore sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective
  • The USC Dornsife Environmental Studies Program, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, as well as minors and general-education courses in sustainability and the environment
  • A new collaboration with USC Online to offer the Wrigley Institute Master’s Degree in Sustainability Management aimed at working professionals
  • USC Sea Grant, which collaborates with policymakers, schools, and other community stakeholders to solve the unique challenges faced by the Southern California Bight and its heavily urbanized coastline
  • Three themed Research Centers that support USC faculty, postdocs, and students as they conduct solutions-focused investigations into Earth and Environmental Systems, Applied Environmental Solutions, and Social Transformation
  • An Engagement Center to connect the wider USC community and the public through events and signature outreach programs, such as storytelling training for academic scientists and the annual Climate Forward conference.

In addition to its renaming, WIES is also introducing new artwork to reflect its evolving identity. The new design, created by USC animation student and 2021 Wrigley Institute environmental communications intern Rika Mizoguchi, adopts USC’s signature cardinal-and-gold color scheme and iconography that both reflects the institute’s history and looks forward to its future.

With ocean imagery and the initial W, the new art pays tribute to WIES’s longstanding history and relationship with the Wrigley family, as well as its historic focus on marine science. But with its motif of a rising sun, trees native to California, energetic waves, and a hill to climb, it also signals the institute’s dynamic future as a beacon of insights and progress on sustainability and the environment.

“We’ve begun writing the next chapter of the USC Wrigley Institute,” said Director Joe Árvai. “I can’t wait to see what happens next!”