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Dow Sustainability Fellows Program

The Challenge

A primary purpose of the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program is to encourage interdisciplinary study about sustainability. Our challenge is to identify continued support for this program in the future.

Our Approach

The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program at the University of Michigan, made possible by Dow and U-M, supports full-time graduate students who are committed to finding interdisciplinary, actionable, and meaningful sustainability solutions on local-to-global scales. This is a year-long program that aspires to prepare future sustainability leaders to make a positive difference in organizations worldwide. Dow Fellows focus on the following sustainability areas:

  • Infrastructure
  • Cities
  • Mobility
  • Energy Systems
  • Consumption
  • Food Systems

Students are represented from across campus for this program. One of the key aspects of this sustainability program is that it is interdisciplinary. To apply to this program Doctoral students need to have the support of their faculty advisor and a letter of support is part of the application process. Master’s students need to be nominated by their school/college. The successful applicant demonstrates the following:

  • How they are actively pursuing interdisciplinary research addressing critical sustainability challenges
  • Keen interest in cohort-building activities through regular engagement across a wide range of disciplinary perspectives

Some examples of our success include:

  • Alumni include Dr. Neil Lewis Jr. (Assistant Professor of Communication and Social Behavior with graduate field appointments in Communication and Psychology at Cornell University)
  • Dr. Melissa Stults (Sustainability and Innovations Manager at City of Ann Arbor)

What We’ve Learned

Discussions among the doctoral cohort often touch on the similarities and differences of approaches used across disciplines. Fellows share best practices and encourage each other to communicate research in terms accessible to practitioners, the media, and other interested audiences. Fellows also interact regularly with U-M faculty over dinners that promote dialogue, mentorship, and reflection about current events and research programs focused on sustainability. These interactions have been extremely valuable.

Next Steps

Focus on leveraging existing cross-campus partnerships, developing new ones, and identifying sustained funding sources.


Graham Sustainability Institute


To learn more visit the Dow Sustainability Fellows page.