Stemming from a presidential commission of 2007, President Rose announced the formation in 2008 of the Institute for Stewardship of the Natural World to guide the university's engagement with growing environmental concerns of the JMU community and the world. It coordinates and facilitates existing and new pursuits of sustainability, environmental stewardship and a broader sense of citizenship
Based on a survey of the JMU faculty, more than 100 professors reported 268 recent or ongoing environmental stewardship scholarly projects, of which 44 percent were student-led. Also, of these 268 projects, 85 receive external funds and 29 have internal funding.
Research projects were reported from the areas of health sciences, humanities, communications, natural sciences, engineering and applied sciences, visual and performing arts, business, and social sciences. Projects included many occurring in international settings.