In 1997, the existing environmental research of several UHasselt research groups was brought together under one roof, the Centre for Environmental Sciences, CMK. From the inception, CMK aimed at extending research efforts over the boundaries of specific scientific disciplines. Environmental problems are complex, have impacts on many fields of society and therefore should be studied and tackled in a multidisciplinary way. A second objective of the foundation of CMK was to concentrate the environmental research at UHasselt on a limited number of common topics in core expertise areas, for which academic leadership was aspired.
Initially, CMK as a research institute focused on issues related to environmental stress in general, and more specifically on effects on organisms, soil, water and air contamination. Over the years, CMK expanded its research capabilities to provide academic expertise and leadership for two additional research lines: “sustainable, clean technologies”, and biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate change”.
At the start of CMK, the research groups Environmental Biology, Applied and Analytic Chemistry, Environmental Economy, and Environmental Law joined, followed by the research groups Zoology, Biodiversity and Toxicity, Cell Physiology and Molecular and Physical Plant Physiology, with the latter two eventually leaving CMK again. In 2013, after its integration into UHasselt and 10 years of collaboration with CMK, the research group Nuclear Technology (NuTec) became a member of CMK.
As of early 2019, CMK consists of six research groups