Dow Distinguished Awards for Interdisciplinary Sustainability

To foster high-impact sustainability collaborations across the University of Michigan, the Dow Sustainability Fellows program includes a competition for applied sustainability projects that cut across disciplines and academic levels, and involve U-M students at all academic levels. 

Request for Proposals

In January of each year, the program issues a call for two-page project proposals that describe a compelling and practicable effort to foster sustainability at the local, national, or global level. Proposals should be action oriented and outline a new product, service, or project that seeks to protect the environment and enhance quality of life for present and future generations. The program encourages proposals spanning the full breadth of sustainability topics, including but not limited to: energy, water, communities, food, built environment, transportation, etc. Project proposals in partnership with external entities are also welcome. As there are other U-M student award programs that recognize efforts to implement sustainability improvements directed at the U-M campus, the Dow Awards program is instead focused on improvements beyond the campus environment.

The Dow Distinguished Awards Program is loosely modeled after the successful MCubed program in that it provides seed funding to nurture a wide range of project ideas. To be minimally eligible, each team must include a representative from three different schools/colleges. All project teams selected to receive $5,000 in seed funding must provide a progress report and continuing work proposal by October 1st summarizing their accomplishments and future plans. These submissions are reviewed by an independent committee of U-M faculty and external practitioners from business, government, and civil society, who will select a small number of the most impressive projects to drive further progress through additional funding of up to $50,000.  All award funds must be used for project implementation. Disbursement of funds will be staged and will be contingent upon satisfactory progress and achievement of pre-identified project milestones.


For the 2015 program, two-page project proposals may be submitted at any time between mid-January and June 30, or until the first 20 project proposals have been funded, whichever occurs first. Award winners are announced in November. Award winners are required to present their projects, including progress toward implementation, on the U-M campus in early April of the following year before a distinguished and diverse group of external sustainability practitioners.

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