CNRS - ENS/PSL University - University of Arizona

The IRL Iglobes -- Interdisciplinary and Global Environmental Studies -- is an international and interdisciplinary research laboratory founded in 2008 by an agreement between the University of Arizona (UA) and the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS-INSHS/INEE). In 2018, the agreement was extended to include the Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris, as a third partner. Iglobes is hosted by the UA Biosphere 2 department and located on the UA main campus in Tucson.


Iglobes aims at establishing a hub of collaborative interactions between the French scientific community and UA to foster interdisciplinary research on global environmental challenges. Iglobes is thus designed to strengthen international cooperation between French and American researchers, in social, physical and natural sciences. Essential to Iglobes vision is its role in training the next generations of interdisciplinary global researchers at the interface of social and environmental sciences. At the core of Iglobes scientific agenda is the question of sustainable life and living in extreme environments, in the regional and historical context of arid lands and transboundary systems.


Iglobes' mission is therefore to support research and training on major environmental issues by hosting French scientists “in residence” for long-term collaborative projects with UA researchers, as well as short-term visiting scholars and students. Iglobes acts to facilitate and expand collaborations that have long been established between the French scientific community and multiple departments and centers at the University of Arizona, including the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, the Institute of the Environment, the School of Geography and Development, and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Building from CNRS Interdisciplinary Incubator at Paris Sciences & Lettres (PSL) University, Iglobes funding from PSL University opens new collaborative opportunities with Biosphere 2, the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, the Initiative in Ecosystem Genomics, the Program in Applied Mathematics, the Department of Geosciences and the Center for Astrobiology. UA programs such as CAZMEX (Consortium for Arizona-Mexico Arid Environments) will help build new bridges with research centers and study sites in Mexico. Taking advantage from its transnational nature, Iglobes French and U.S. scholars are encouraged to team up and seek external funding from both U.S. and E.U. agencies.

Research projects

Current projects at Iglobes involve sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, archaeologists, ecologists, and planetary scientists, and span four main themes:

  • Cooperation, conflict, and policy for water resources in the arid Americas;
  • The governance of natural resources and sparsely populated areas in the Americas; 
  • Ecological and societal adaptation and collapse in response to extreme climate events;
  • How extreme environments encountered on Earth and in the universe shape our sense of life and nature. 

Iglobes also supports research carried by the “Pima County Observatory”, which is a member of the French Human-Environment Observatory network program funded under the DRIIHM Laboratory Of Excellence. The Pima County Observatory awards seed grants on an annual basis, to promote innovative research focusing on the Sonoran Desert environment that benefits French-U.S. collaboration.