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Our Dow Sustainability Fellowship Program team (the Dow team) partnered with the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) to investigate drinking water quality and affordability issues at the community level to better inform statewide efforts to empower citizens and address water access concerns. The locality of focus, Benton Harbor, Michigan, shares similarities to Flint, Michigan – a city thrust into the spotlight when lead contamination was discovered in its drinking water. Benton Harbor, like Flint, has experienced an economic depression, a strained city governance, and aging infrastructure.

Keywords: water, infrastructure, Michigan Environmental Council, City Planning

A Dow Sustainability Fellows team presented to the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) the financial, social, and environmental merits of offering subsidized ride-hail services to residents in areas that cannot be efficiently covered by buses. The team proposed a subsidized ride-hail service, FlexBus. While the research, design, and analysis of this report were conducted specifically for the AAATA, the team expects the information and insight will be broadly applicable to any transit agency considering on-demand ride-hailing.

Keywords: Ride sharing, hailing, transportation, subsidized

The concept of energy democracy allows people and communities to have control over their energy supply, with options such as choosing whether it comes from fossil fuels or renewables, and infrastructure considerations. Energy democracy focuses on poor and working class people of color, often most impacted by energy purchase decisions. The city of HIghland Park, MI has a majority of African-American and black population, with nearly half of residents living below the poverty line. Soulardarity and the Dow Fellows team collaborated on a community survey, that showed, among other findings, that approximately 40% of the population reported difficulty in paying their energy bills, with multiple people reporting illegal shut-offs.  The results suggest a high and possibly unjust energy burden on the population.

Keywords: Energy democracy, Community Solar Calculator, Community Solar Power, Highland Park

Like many post-industrial cities, Detroit has an outdated and overburdened combined sewer system. In a combined sewer system, heavy rains overwhelm the city’s water treatment system, resulting in increased flooding and discharges of both sewage and stormwater into local rivers. In order to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSO), stormwater must enter the sewer system at a slower and steadier pace without high peaks caused by heavy rain events. In addition, Detroit has vast amounts of impervious surface, much of which is abandoned or underused, further contributing to stormwater runoff concerns.

This project, in collaboration with Michigan Community Resources (MCR) and Eastside Community Network (ECN), explores whether a collective, place-based approach to green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) installations can result in joint stormwater credits toward fees in residential neighborhoods.


Keywords: Urban infrastructure, combined sewer system, flooding, sewage, stormwater, green infrastructure

Over the course of 2017, a team of University of Michigan (U-M) Dow Sustainability Fellows partnered with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin to assess NELD impacts experienced by their community. Students collaborated with the tribe to document and illuminate the potential adverse health, cultural, and psychological impacts stemming from biodiversity losses and destruction or alteration of landscapes. Their research highlights the interconnected relationship between the environment and tribal members’ identity, spirituality, and culture. Moreover, it demonstrates how dedicated the community is to being environmental stewards.

Keywords:  Non-economic losses and damages (NELD), Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians, emotional, health, psychological impacts stemming, climate and environmental change, Wisconsin

Dow Distinguished Awards 2018 Factsheet

Dow Distinguished Award for Interdisciplinary Sustainability
Open to any U-M Ann Arbor undergraduate or graduate student interested in pursuing innovative solutions to affordable housing, access to healthy food, renewable energy, and more. 

Dow Masters 2018 Factsheet

Supports graduate scholars pursuing a Master's or Professional degree who are committed to finding sustainable solutions and prepares them to be global sustainability leaders.

Supports doctoral scholars developing and implementing innovative sustainability ideas and becoming leaders in academia, business, government and non-governmental organizations.

2018 Dow Sustainability Fellows Annual ReportIn the Sixth Annual Report, Collaborative Leadership for Sustainability, made possible by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan (U-M) engaged 17 of U-M's 19 schools and colleges this past year.

Getting around without a car isn’t easy in many U.S. cities. People who rely on public transit often contend with many challenges, including decaying infrastructure, not having easy access to a transit stop, lack of system reliability, restrictions to how late or early a system operates, and often a lack of support to fund transit improvements. These difficulties can impact people in many ways, including their ability to access essential healthcare, jobs, and grocery stores. Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft can pick up the slack from inadequate public transit, but they also present challenges, like being inaccessible to people with disabilities; lacking the incentive to work along unpopular routes; creating more emissions per mile traveled; and siphoning riders (and money) from public transit. One solution to these challenges is for transit agencies to enter into public-private partnerships with ride-hailing companies to expand public transit coverage.

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) partnered with a University of Michigan Dow Sustainability Fellows team to explore the potential for a public-private partnership that could supplement and enhance the current public transit system in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The team researched the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of different ride-hailing public-private partnership models to determine which model could best be used to cover under-used bus routes and connect riders to transit stops.