University of Michigan

Multiple paths to a campus culture of sustainability and competency for the community


University of Michigan


North America



founding year


student body



Institutional Approach

The University of Michigan takes a whole-institute sustainable development approach by seeking to align every institutional action to the SDGs. They have established a web-based, voluntary self-training program in sustainability for staff, faculty, and students on the SDGs. The university also offers an extracurricular certification via the “Graham Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars Program”, where students engage in course-based and hands-on sustainability projects. Moreover, they have offered a project-based learning course called “Sustainability and the Campus” since 2001, which jointly tackles sustainability education and student engagement in on-campus sustainability efforts. The course was first initiated by a sustainability student group, and is open for any student who has taken at least one other sustainability or environment-related course. It links students and their faculty leader directly to various operational sustainability projects on campus.The School of Environment and Sustainability offers a similar innovative course of study for masters students. In a theme-based capstone course, student teams work directly with societal clients, such as regional water, energy or urban planning practitioners on practical, applied public projects. This school has also been a pioneer in the field of environmental sociology and intersectional environmentalism, and has brought in forwards-thinking initiatives such as the Multicultural Environmental Research Leadership Initiative, which seeks to increase diversity in environmental organizations and environmental movements. Michigan also has a variety of university-wide efforts towards carbon neutrality for which they publicly track progress towards using a web dashboard. Goals include emissions and waste reduction, sustainable food procurement and investment in sustainability cultural programs. They have published best practices and guides to assessing and tracking the development of an institute's sustainability culture over time. This Sustainability Cultural Indicators Program is a multi-year program which tracks and benchmarks attitudes, behaviours and engagement in sustainability among the university community over time.


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