Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dow and U-M launch innovative program to develop sustainability leaders

Dow Chemical Co. and U-M will bring together 300 students from all areas of study to help solve some of the world's most pressing sustainability challenges in a new and unprecedented fellowship program announced today.


More information

• FAQ on Fellows Program

President Coleman's remarks

• Sustainability at U-M

Sustainability at Dow

Fellowship information, applications and selection

President Mary Sue Coleman and Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive officer of Dow, told a Detroit Economic Club audience that Dow will provide a gift of $10 million over six years to support the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at U-M. Business, environmental, civic and academic leaders and media attended the event at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit.

This real-world, multidisciplinary program will leverage U-M's nearly $1.25 billion research portfolio to engage in and help solve some of the world's most pressing sustainability challenges, while driving innovation in Michigan and around the globe.

The unique structure of the program will bring together a select group of the most promising students and potential future leaders, from natural and social sciences, engineering, business, law, public health, public policy, architecture, urban planning and other disciplines.

These graduate and postdoctoral scholars will learn together how to integrate the power of their respective disciplines to help solve sustainability challenges, including energy, climate change, water, food, housing, transportation and health. The program will cultivate nearly 300 leaders in global sustainability.

"At Dow, we know that the most successful partnerships are formed when there is a foundational belief that business interests and public interests should be aligned in order to create long-terms solutions for the greater good of humanity," Liveris said. "Our collaborative partnership pushes aside the standard thinking and supports unique models that will give rise to the next generation of innovators in Michigan and across the world."

"Through this gift, we have the chance to ramp up our efforts in preparing future leaders in sustainability — in all areas of study, attacking all aspects of this complex issue," Coleman said. "The uniqueness of this program is that it is not rooted in any one discipline or any single unit of the university — it is as broad and comprehensive as the subject matter itself. And that is, frankly, the only way to solve problems as pervasive as those we face in sustainability."

The program includes fellowships for master's, doctoral and postdoctoral students and a supporting lecture series focused on sharing sustainability research and best practices. Under the program, teams composed of fellows at various levels from different disciplines would also compete for awards supporting high-impact sustainability solutions that address a sustainability challenge.