The global sustainability challenge encompasses many areas of inquiry, such as air, water, food, energy, mobility, climate change, built environment, land use and human behavior. However, efforts focused solely on individual elements will not produce the solutions our society requires. Transformative breakthroughs will only result by focusing at the intersections—applying innovative ideas and approaches that cut across natural, social, and technological boundaries.
At the University of Michigan, we seek to discover and disseminate breakthrough innovations at disciplinary interfaces to solve complex sustainability challenges and improve lives on local-to-global scales. Drawing on more than 850 sustainability-related faculty across our 19 Schools and Colleges, we possess tremendous intellectual assets to support this goal.
Data from a comprehensive study assessing sustainability knowledge, behaviors and attitudes across U-M students, faculty and staff is available for researchers. Materials from the Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program (SCIP) include indicator reports, survey samples and more. SCIP resources include information about transportation, waste prevention, conservation and more. The program is a collaborative effort of the Institute for Social Research and the Graham Sustainability Institute.
With more than $1 billion in research funding, the University of Michigan conducts a vast array of research supported by a superb infrastructure. The university's many sustainability-related units are critical components of these research endeavors. Please browse the list below to learn about these entities—and their respective roles in leading and supporting important sustainability research.
The School for Environment and Sustainability (SEAS) is the primary academic home for faculty and students whose work focuses on these topics. As an interdisciplinary school, SEAS spans the university and brings together students and faculty from all of our schools to contribute their ideas and talents to this important work. All of our other Schools and Colleges also do important work related to the environment and sustainability.
- Energy Institute. Develops, coordinates, and promotes multidisciplinary energy research and education across the university.
- Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. Committed to creating a socially and environmentally sustainable society through the power of business.
- Graham Sustainability Institute. Catalyzes and facilitates sustainability-focused collaborations involving faculty, students, and external stakeholders.
- Institute for Social Research. The world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization.
- Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). Provides interdisciplinary research to increase driving safety and transportation systems knowledge.
Centers, Partnerships, & Initiatives
- Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). Conducts, supports and fosters applied academic research to inform local, state, and urban policy issues.
- Center for Solar & Thermal Energy Conversion. Develops scientific strategies for maximizing energy-conversion efficiencies.
- Center for Sustainable Systems. This center develops life-cycle based models and sustainability metrics for systems that meet societal needs.
- Center for the Study of Complex Systems. Facilitates research and education in the general area of nonlinear, dynamical and adaptive systems
- Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR). Serves as a focal point for collaborations between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and university researchers in the Great Lakes region.
- Ecosystem Management Initiative. This entity promotes sustainable natural resource management through ecosystem-based teaching, research and outreach.
- Environmental Law and Policy Program. Promotes interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching to address the myriad challenges facing our global environment.
- Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments. GLISA is part of a national network of regional centers focused on adaptation to climate change and variability.
- International Forestry Resources and Institutions. U-M based global research network focused on forest governance and livelihoods; focus on data collection and analysis.
- MCity. Implementing a working system of connected and automated vehicles
- Michigan Sea Grant. Cooperative research and outreach program of U-M and Michigan State University, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Poverty Solutions. Finding new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty.
- Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP). Devoted to interdisciplinary research and teaching on the politics and processes of science and technology policymaking.
- Water Center. Guides efforts to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems, with an initial focus on the Great Lakes.
Field Stations & Preserves
- Biological Station. Founded in 1909, this Northern Michigan facility is dedicated to education and research in field biology and related environmental sciences.
- Camp Davis Rocky Mountain Field Station. U-M has maintained this Wyoming field station since 1929, providing unparalleled learning experiences for students.
- Edwin S. George Reserve. U-M has maintained this preserve since 1930 for natural science research and education opportunities and to preserve the native flora and fauna
- Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Established in 1907, these Ann Arbor treasures encompass 700+ acres of gardens, preserves, and research areas
- Saginaw Forest. This 80-acre land parcel in Ann Arbor is used for forestry operations, research, and instruction.