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The concept of transforming otherwise underused, vacant spaces into indoor farms is quickly becoming a popular medium for sustainable agriculture in urban communities. Examples include “The Plant” in Chicago, Illinois and “Growing Underground” in London, England. In these cases, a former meat-packing warehouse and forgotten WWII tunnels were repurposed into spaces for productive urban agriculture. These models provided the inspiration for establishing Black Pearl Gardens (BPG) located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Dow Fellows student project team worked with Christy Kaledas, founder and developer of BPG, to assess and enhance the efficiency and sustainability of the indoor farm, and suggest possible avenues for a 17-acre future expansion.

 

Keywords:  Local food, urban agriculture, sustainability, indoor farm, indoor crops, Dow Sustainability Fellows, global impact series

This fact sheet provides a summary about the Michigan Journal of Sustainability (MJS), see: sustainability.umich.edu/mjs. MJS is managed by graduate students, affiliated with the University of Michigan Dow Sustainablity Fellows Program. Contributing authors translate scholarly research, field work and sustainability problems into useful formats for practitioners and policy makers. 

Authors are encouraged to publish in this peer-reviewed journal targeted toward sustainability practitioners interested in applying innovative research to address complex challenges. This is an opportunity to communicate how research results are relevant to real-world applications.

 

Keywords: Sustainability, Michigan Journal of Sustainability, MJS, sustainable ecosystems, livable communities, climate variability and change

 

The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program supports graduate and postgraduate level scholars focused on interdisciplinary sustainability. The program prepares future sustainability leaders to make a positive difference in organizations worldwide. The program is comprised of master’s/professional degree, doctoral, and postdoctoral fellows, who engage with one another within and across cohorts, thrive on collaboration, learn to employ interdisciplinary thinking, experience diverse stakeholder perspectives, and implement projects with significant potential for impact on local-to-global scales.

 

Keywords: Fellowships, sustainability, interdisciplinary, leadership, scholarship

This report, Creating Global Leaders in Sustainability, highlights activities and impacts of Dow Fellows at the University of Michigan. The program was launched in 2012 with a visionary $10 million gift from The Dow Chemical Company. The goal was ambitious: create interdisciplinary leaders capable of generating innovative, concrete, actionable solutions to the big sustainability challenges of our time.

Major program components include cohorts of fellows at the master’s/ professional degree, doctoral, and postdoctoral levels, as well as a Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability competition that supports high-potential sustainability projects. Projects focus on compelling and actionable efforts to advance sustainability at the local, national, and global level.

Work on sustainability is, by definition, something that will involve many generations. The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program has trained four cohorts of researchers at all levels, and their work will have a critical impact on the students who follow them into the field. — Martha E. Pollack, University of Michigan Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Program leaders believe that diversity is key to individual empowerment, and the advancement of sustainability knowledge, learning and leadership.

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Following a national pattern, Michigan’s honey bee populations are declining rapidly. Since 2005, 30% of all honey bee colonies in the US have been lost each year, a condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Because honey bees pollinate nearly all of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts grown in Michigan, this population decline is emerging as a significant threat to the state’s food production. 

For a nation with five percent of the world’s population, the United States has an outsized environmental footprint. Americans consume a third of global resources and create a third of the planet’s waste. The food industry plays a significant role in this resource imbalance: results from the 2010 US Food and Agriculture Organization survey show that American’s consumed 271 pounds of meat per person, per year, nearly three times the global average. 

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In many developed countries like the United States, the drive for wealth accumulation and a more individualized consumption of goods and services has largely contributed to environmental degradation and climate change (Thøgersen , 2014), economic inequality (Alderson & Nielson, 2002), and a decline in social capital (Putnam, 1995). Community‐based resource sharing, including formal and informal sharing of physical resources, services, and skills, has the potential to decrease aggregate levels of consumption (Botsman & Rodgers, 20011. It also has the potential to improve social equity, helping individuals live within our ecological means (Cooper & Timmer, 2015).

This report highlights research findings and recommendations to encourage sharing within communities. A community survey was developed and guided by key informant interviews with local sharing organization leaders. A team of Dow Master's students distributed the survey to five communities in Southeastern Michigan, and collected data about the benefits, challenges, and opportunities for community‐based resource sharing.

The Dow Fellows team that produced this report proposes a solution for critical funding and capacity shortages in the management of the Illinois Nature Preserves System. The team reviewed the state of Illinois’ public land management needs, existing actors and resources, and proposed the basic architecture of a nonprofit tailored to work in concert with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

The purpose of this project was to tackle sustainability on an intrinsic level, and consider platforms or tools to educate people on the importance of sustainability. Our Dow Master's team investigated the potential competing societal values limiting progress towards environmental sustainability within the United States. The vision for this project was seeing such tools being used as exercises in businesses or academia to educate employers, employees, students, and staff members to become more aware about how they approach solving sustainability challenges. Increased understanding of the triple bottom line — considering people, planet, and prosperity — may result in more efficient and effective choices. Our mission was to affect change within ourselves and others leading to more conscientious choices. Underpinning these statements is the assertion or worldview that living in a sustainable world is an ethically desirable pursuit.

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Sustainable Harvest Inc. (SH) is a specialty coffee importer headquartered in Portland, Oregon. SH sources unroasted (green) coffee beans from 18 countries in Latin America and Africa, and sells to roasters in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Over the past 17 years, SH has pioneered the “Relationship Coffee Model” as a method of direct trade, providing significant investment and trainings to producers at origin to facilitate improved coffee bean quality, protect against environmental and price risks, and improve farmer livelihoods. SH also strives to increase transparency along the supply chain.

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