Harte Model

“Make a difference” – Edward H. Harte


HRI is built around the unique Harte Model, which employs an interdisciplinary  holistic approach that creates synergy for addressing ecosystem scale problems threatening the Gulf of Mexico and raises awareness that people and the environment are inexorably linked in their solution. The Harte Model is organized into seven areas headed by Endowed Chairs who are among the world’s leading experts in their areas of research: Coastal and Marine Geospatial Sciences; Ecosystems Studies and Modeling Biodiversity and Conservation Science; Fisheries and Ocean Health; Marine Policy and Law; Socio-Economics; and Marine Genomics.


HRI is answering Ed Harte’s challenge to “make a difference” by focusing on “science that makes a difference.” Our objective is to think beyond basic science and build on its foundation to address the pressing conservation issues facing the Gulf today. HRI scientists think broadly and pursue partnerships with other like-minded organizations, both private and public, that will most effectively utilize our expertise and resources to realize the vision of an ecologically and economically healthy Gulf of Mexico. Our scientific research advances sustainability and conservation efforts on a Gulf-wide scale and supports governance frameworks that apply and build upon sound science in decision-making.


While HRI is a science-based institution with a staff that carries out a wide range of studies, the primary distinction between HRI and other marine institutions is the focus on integrating science with economic, legal and policy expertise to solve societal problems related to the environment and specifically the Gulf of Mexico. This objective is enhanced by the diversity of expertise co-located, along with our students, under one roof at the HRI building. With offices and labs of the six disciplines intermingled, the opportunity to collaborate and build a team identity comes naturally.

An added value of the Harte Model is that it allows HRI to play the role of impartial broker in bridging the gap between science and policy on decisions that have real world outcomes. There is a growing urgency to address the profound impact of humans on the Gulf of Mexico, which, along with climate change, is contributing to the expansion of dead zones, harmful algal blooms, over-fishing, freshwater diversions, habitat loss and coastal erosion.


Despite the threats to its health, a resilient Gulf of Mexico has overcome natural variability and human abuses to remain a large, productive ecosystem. As populations continue to increase, HRI is focusing on research and action that sustains, and restores the natural resiliency upon which we depend. The Harte Model is uniquely positioned to help solve these complex and immediate problems and assure the creation of frameworks within which to apply these solutions.