Graham Sustainability Institute

Forty University of Michigan Students Named Dow Sustainability Fellows

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Forty masters and professional-degree students from eight schools and colleges at the University of Michigan started the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program on January 17, 2013—marking the first cohort of fellows in the $10 million program launched last spring. (Click here for roster.)

In total, these fellows are receiving $800,000 to support their studies for one year and becoming part of a collaborative community of sustainability scholars at U-M.

These new masters and professional-degree fellows hail from schools and colleges throughout U-M, including architecture and urban planning, art and design, business, engineering, law, natural resources and environment, public health, and public policy.

“We are thrilled to announce this first cohort of Dow Sustainability Fellows,” said Donald Scavia, special counsel to the U-M president on sustainability. “To see so many different schools and colleges represented shows both the breadth of our students’ talents and the multifaceted nature of global sustainability challenges.”

Although hundreds of students pursued this prestigious opportunity, each U-M school and college was permitted to nominate only 10 students, which made the application process extremely competitive.

A 20-member faculty panel reviewed and scored these candidates based on their demonstrated potential for effective leadership, experience working collaboratively, relevance of prior work and interests related to sustainability, and productivity and quality of prior work.

 “We went through a very rigorous nomination and review process,” said Andrew Horning, acting director of U-M’s Graham Sustainability Institute, which administers the fellows program on behalf of the university. “These fellows represent some of the highest-caliber interdisciplinary thinkers at the university—and, undoubtedly, some of the future sustainability leaders for our planet.” 

In addition to receiving a $20,000 stipend, each fellow will participate in monthly seminars and workshops, team projects, co-curricular activities, and other exercises designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among scholars.  

“The most viable sustainability solutions happen when multiple disciplines and stakeholders work together, and that’s exactly what this fellows program is all about,” Scavia said. “We have fellows with interests spanning water, energy, health, transportation, the built environment, climate change, biodiversity, human behavior, and more, and this unique program promotes engagement and collaboration across them all.”

Established through a six-year gift from The Dow Chemical Company, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program supports U-M graduate students and postdocs who are committed to finding interdisciplinary, actionable, and meaningful sustainability solutions on local-to-global scales. The program aspires to prepare future sustainability leaders to make a positive difference in organizations worldwide.

“We need to equip our leaders of tomorrow with an education experience that mirrors the real world they are inheriting,” said Neil Hawkins, vice president of EH&S and Sustainability for Dow. “That world requires unprecedented collaboration across professions and topics to institute change that we will all benefit from.”

For more information about the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program—including a list of the masters and professional degree fellows—visit the U-M Planet Blue website at