Chulalongkorn University, Thailand's first institution of higher learning, officially came into being in March, 1917. The groundwork and preparation for it in terms of planning and development, however, took place more than a century ago. The worldwide economic, social and political changes in the late nineteenth century contributed to Siam's decision to adapt herself in order to avoid being colonized by the Western powers (“Siam” became “Thailand” in the year 1939). Thus King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) has royal policy to strengthen and improve government so that the country could successfully resist the tide of colonialism. As a result, a school was founded in 1871 at the Royal Pages Barrack within the Grand Palace compound.
In 1899 Prince Damrong Rajanupab, a younger brother of King Chulalongkorn who was the Minister of Interior at the time, submitted a proposal to found the Civil Service Training School with Phraya Wisutsuriyasak
The Civil Service College received its original funding from the remaining sum of the money which had been contributed by members of the royal family, government officials and ordinary citizens to erect a statue of King Chulalongkorn the Great. After the statue was completed, about eight hundred thousand baht remained in the Royal Treasury Ministry;with interest the sum totalled 982,672 baht . King Vajiravudh gave this sum as the original capital of the college. Furthermore, he graciously donated the palace of his brother, the late Crown Prince Vajirunhis, as the site of the college. He also gave a large plot of land adjacent to the palace in the Patumwan district measuring about 523 acres in area, for its present use and future expansion. Later the Administration Building was constructed as the first building which belonged to the college from the beginning.
After the Civil Service College had been in operation for some time, King Vajiravudh considered that it had achieved a level of readiness. Therefore,he declared that it should become Chulalongkorn University, in honour of King Chulalongkorn,on March 26, 1917.
The development of Chulalongkorn University continued. The university emphasized improvement of undergraduate education. In 1961, the university set up the Graduate School to be responsible for graduate level education. From 1962 on, the university started to focus on graduate education and began to set up research centers and institutes.
The graduate program of Environmental Science has been established since 1981. The rationale behind the IES is to use the expertise of university staff beyond the boundaries of departments and faculties. Therefore, the cooperation among 4 related faculties and 3 research institutes in Chulalongkorn University has been formed. Those units are available for IES students to choose for supervising their research. The IES focuses its research on environmental problems with an aim to promote a sustainable environment.