The UMI was created in 2008 when the CNRS (INSHS and INEE) formed a partnership with the University of Arizona (Udall Center for Public Policies). The UMI's mission is to promote comparative, interdisciplinary and international research on water and the environment as complex systems in a global and regional world. The goal was to encourage research between French and American scientists, as well as between social, physical and natural sciences.
As of September 2017, Régis Ferrière is the new Director of the UMI, along with François-Michel Le Tourneau as the Deputy Director.
With the arrival of a new team and new partners, a scientific program has been put in place that will capitalize on the strengths of the University of Arizona (ecology, geosciences, space studies, astronomy, Biosphere 2 transdisciplinary program) and French partners (CNRS Interdisciplinary Incubator "Manufacturing and domestication of the living" and "Eco-Evo-Devo", interdisciplinary strategic program “Origin and Conditions of Emergence of Life” at PSL, national experimental platform Ecotron based at ENS).
Focus will be on 5 main areas of research: