The idea for ARPA-C, a climate focused cousin to other large federally funded research agencies like DARPA for defense and ARPA-E for Energy, was conceived of by a team at CSU as a transdisciplinary institution for radical climate research and intervention. Originating at the CSU Energy Institute and written by multiple authors including IBE’s Josie Plaut, the paper makes the case that technological innovations alone are not enough to create the needed cultural and societal changes to respond to the climate crisis. Instead, a well-conceived ARPA-C would adopt a holistic approach to large-scale research and innovation that integrates culture, equity, and social science alongside technology.

The ambitious proposal for the foundational structures of ARPA-C include:

  • Transdisciplinary research leading to holistic climate interventions
  • Convergence of social, cultural, technological, and environmental metrics
  • Autonomous and term-limited leadership teams combining diverse disciplines
  • A public-private partnership, funded by a blend of domestic and international sources
  • Global imperative across all industries and social systems impacting climate

The idea for ARPA-C was proposed to the Biden campaign through former Governor Bill Ritter. A simplified and more conventional version of ARPA-C was included in President Biden’s budget proposal to Congress.  At the time of writing, no version of ARPA-C had yet been funded.

The original version of the article was published in Earth’s Future.