Mission Statement


To provide knowledge, skills, tools, and awareness pertaining to environmental quality and human-environment interactions in order to improve and sustain the function of environmental systems and protect human health.

SWES 2021 Vision

The Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES) comprises breadth and depth of expertise in research, teaching and extension of environmental science, defined here as basic to applied science of the Earth’s terrestrial surface – including regions affected by human activity.   SWES focuses on that portion of the Earth’s near surface termed the “critical zone” that extends from the lower atmospheric boundary to the lower depth of circulating groundwater, and which includes vegetation and/or urban infrastructure, soil, sediment, vadose and saturated zones.  Our vision of SWES includes:

  • Research, teaching and extension programs that are Land Grant mission-driven to address societal needs pertaining to problems of agricultural production, water quality, natural resource management, and environmental remediation, in a rapidly changing world.
  • Programs that are natural-science-based and address direct rural, urban, and industrial systems.  A departmental theme is a systems perspective that integrates fundamental concepts of physics, chemistry and biology in applications to the environment.  SWES research and degree programs are therefore grounded in a strong basic science curriculum that represents the foundation for focused studies in environmental physics, chemistry and/or biology.
  • A cross-section of faculty, staff and students that represent unparalleled capacity to address emerging environmental issues of local to global significance, including climate change, contaminant remediation, and the sustainable management of land and water resources.  SWES personnel conduct a wide range of extramurally funded research on issues of importance, focusing especially on Arizona, the Southwest and other semi-arid and arid regions of the globe where reciprocal interactions between environmental and human health are profound.


It is our central mission to provide: 

  •  Training and education for future generations of scientists, land and water resource managers, engineers, agricultural producers, and policy makers to address a wide range of issues facing environmental systems and their intersection with human health and well-being.
  • Relevant and innovative information and communication to aid in sustainable management and decision making involving increasingly stressed land and water supplies in that state, nation and world.
  • Technical expertise for addressing critical zone and environmental issues (including contaminant remediation, sustainable food production, soil and water quality) in rural and urban centers and the rapidly changing interfaces between them.

SWES Shared Values

Critical zone science, and soil and water quality, along with their relation to human health and well-being and sustainable land and water management, will continue to be the primary focal areas for training, research, and service/extension/outreach activities of the Department.


SWES Phase III Strategic Plan document