How to do Research in Environmental Studies and Sustainability

Library resources for researchers working on the environment, climate, environmental science and public policy (ESPP), energy and environment, Global Development and other environmental and sustainability topics.


Topic-specific keywords will help improve your results in a general multidisciplinary database like Google, Google Scholar, HOLLIS, or Academic Search Premier

Add keywords like these to your search:

  • Topics- green banking, fast fashion, air pollution, American robin, invasive plants, CO2, El Niño, transhumance, environmental justice, storytelling, megacities
  • Modifiers- indigenous, local, Federal, itinerant, francophone. qualitative
  • Types of evidence- data, review, statistics, regulations
  • Geographical areas- Los Angeles, Malaysia, Levant, Cook County, Dorchester, Lake Superior, United States


The best tool for your project may be a specialized search engine, also known as a database. These databases are subject-specific or format-specific search tools:

Environment Index (via HarvardKey) – Environment Index can sometimes provide access to a deeper set of scholarly articles, especially if you’re doing historical research. 

ProQuest Congressional (via HarvardKey) – If U.S. national policy is part of your search, ProQuest Congressional helps you more easily find bills, laws, Congressional committee outputs, Congressional debate, and Congressional Research Service reports.

NexisUni (via HarvardKey) – If you’re looking for public opinion and perceptions of  past events, you can find full text of news articles at NexisUni.  More than 15,000 sources. Use “advanced search,” then scroll down to “source” if you want to search within a particular newspaper.

Dig Deeper

Environment at a Glance is a Harvard Library guide that provides one page of quick links to resources in environmental studies. 

Databases for Environmental Studies - explore the full list of Harvard Library databases in this subject category.


George E. Clark, the library liaison to environmental studies programs and researchers, is available to give support via email, in person, or on Zoom. He works with any Harvard scholar.

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Talk to a librarian for advice on defining your topic, developing your research strategy, and locating and using sources. Make an appointment now.

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