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Vila Santa Marta is a community in São Leopoldo, Brazil, which faces a number of socio-environmental challenges. This factsheet provides an overview of these challenges, including trash build up in public spaces, difficulties with waste management infrastructure, inadequate water, and sewage systems that can lead to flooding, and deteriorating road infrastructure. The local government employs a municipal budgeting strategy that provides the public with the opportunity to decide how to allocate resources and determine the city’s public budget allocation for specific initiatives and capital improvements. However, issues of poor communication have historically led to limited involvement of Santa Marta residents in the participatory budgeting process.

Keywords: Dow Sustainability Fellows Program, Vila Santa Marta, São Leopoldo, Brazil, socio-environmental challenges, infrastructure participatory decision-making, global impact series

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: 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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Nationwide, farmers have experienced a rising demand for locally grown foods. Consumers are beginning to realize what farmers have long known: eating farm-fresh food, carefully grown by members of their own communities, spreads tangible benefits for public health and local economies. Small farmers are more likely to employ low-impact and conservation-oriented agricultural practices than large industrial farms. At the same time, small farmers face a host of economic challenges, including access to markets, loans, and start-up capital.

This fact sheet provides a summary of how the Dow Fellows student team explored USDA farm census data to identify unique areas in Washtenaw County, and locations that fit the national and statewide trends.

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.