Student Scientists, Advocates & Entrepreneurs Are Having Global Impact

Elizabeth LaPorte
Release Date: 


Visit the Global Impact Projects Page for more project summaries, videos and links to the full reports.


Something compels many of us to reach beyond our comfort zone, collaborate with people to explore new ideas, and take action to make a difference in the lives of other people. Each year, groups of U-M graduate students tackle complex sustainability issues in places like Detroit, northern California, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and other local-to-global locations. The Dow Global Impact Series provides a glimpse into the interesting, and often rewarding work of graduate students engaged in the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program. Three examples in the Dow Global Impact Series include:

  • Jobs & Food: Working with Recovery Park Farms in Detroit, students supported a social impact model that ensures both healthy produce and jobs for parolees.
  • Dry Farming: Severe droughts in California led grape-growers to determine how best practices can reduce water use; and recommendations developed by students may improve consumer awareness about dry farming practices. 
  • De-silting Ponds: A project to improve water storage, water quality and agriculture production in Telangana, India offered students the opportunity to study how de-silting ponds could become instilled as a mainstream agricultural process.

Each summary in the series is based on a report produced by student teams, and highlights key issues, their approach and project outcomes. At the beginning of each project, students form interdisciplinary research teams of 4-6 students, who, engage with communities, local leaders, and various types of organizations. Teams develop an analysis of options on a specific sustainability challenge of the team’s choosing. These challenges provide opportunities to work in wide-ranging settings around the globe.

Students engaged in the Dow Fellows Program pursue graduate degrees in architecture, arts, business, design, engineering, environment, health, law, policy, social work, urban planning, and other disciplines. Each year, fellows are selected from a talented and diverse pool of candidates nominated by schools and colleges throughout the University.