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The University of Michigan is the nation’s largest public research university, with $1.62 billion in annual research expenditures. With three campuses, a health system and more than 200 centers and institutes, U-M researchers are working with partners on campus and beyond to address emerging problems, spur new technologies and drive the economy.

Interdisciplinary Cooperation

U-M researchers collaborate across a wide variety of disciplines in order to advance knowledge and solve challenging problems. The interdisciplinary environment at U-M has sparked a broad spectrum of cross-cutting projects and initiatives that address sustainability challenges related to population growth, climate change, land and water use, energy choices and poverty. Find U-M experts in sustainability and environmental science, across fields and academic units.

Putting Research to Practice

U-M has research strengths that build on advances in the basic sciences and engineering to pave the way for practical application. Translational sustainability research led by U-M spans from public health to business, policy, law and urban planning.


U-M students play a critical role in sustainability efforts at U-M, collaborating with faculty experts as part of their degree requirements. Through these undergraduate research experiences, students at all levels are advancing knowledge and developing the skills and passion to become future sustainability leaders. They are putting their knowledge and passion to work across campus through climate, environmental, and sustainability activities housed at Planet Blue Campus.

Partnerships and Initiatives

U-M engages in a broad spectrum of research partnerships with communities and government agencies to spur progress on critical issues in sustainability and environmental science around the world. Some of our key initiatives in environmental justice include:

Poverty Solutions

Poverty Solutions is a University of Michigan initiative that aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research that informs policymakers, community organizations, government entities, and practitioners about what works in confronting poverty. The initiative seeks to leverage the assets and academic scope of the university to make a major impact on the lives of millions of Americans.

A group of people talking in a meeting room with a slide with the words "Mobility From Poverty Network" projected on screens at the front of the room

Urban Energy Justice Lab (UEJ)

UEJ examines energy-related topics through a justice lens, primarily in an urban context. Its research focuses on the production and persistence of spatial, racial, and socioeconomic disparities in accessibility and affordability of energy services, technology, and programs.

Tony Reames in front the steps of the School of Environment & Sustainability building

Center for Racial Justice

The Center for Racial Justice is a cross-disciplinary space that aims to foster deep relationships between research and advocacy to uncover the voices of the unjustly silenced, challenge us to live up to our democratic ideals, and offer sound policy prescriptions for a more equitable and just society. Housed at the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the center directly invests in initiatives designed to advance racial equity and cultivate a diverse community of changemakers. It develops new tools and strategies in the pursuit of racial justice, resulting in better, evidence-based policy solutions and the cultivation of the next generation of high-impact leaders and thinkers.

Center for Racial Justice

Urban Collaboratory

The Urban Collaboratory draws together a community of scholars from across the University of Michigan campus to collaborate directly with city stakeholders to address targeted challenges that impact the health and livability of urban centers.

Satellite view of Great Lakes Water Authority sites in Detroit

Center for Smart Infrastructure Finance

The Center for Smart Infrastructure Finance (CSIF) aims to change the way infrastructure is designed and financed, by harnessing the hidden value of data. By bridging infrastructure data and efficient financing models, the center aims to enable climate resilience and equity.

Illustration of a large city's skyline

Center for Sustainable Systems

CSS develops and applies life cycle and systems analysis methods, models, and metrics for advancing sustainability and transforming systems to better meet human needs. It has pioneered new methods in life cycle analysis, design and optimization and has led over 200 research projects focused on a wide range of topics including alternative vehicle technology, renewable energy systems, buildings and infrastructure, appliances, information technology, food and agricultural systems, and packaging alternatives.

Solar panels and wind turbines at sunset

Center for Low Carbon Built Environment

The U-M Center for Low Carbon Built Environment is an interdisciplinary effort to dramatically lower carbon emissions over the next decade. With partnerships across the value chain of building and infrastructure, it is creating a new circular economy around climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Researchers in a lab wearing safety equipment

Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy

The Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) conducts, supports and fosters applied academic research to inform local, state, and urban policy issues. One of the Center's key programs is the Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS), the nation's only ongoing census-style survey of every unit of general purpose local government across an entire state. Across all of its activities, the Center functions as an information resource for policymakers and practitioners, academics, students, the media, and the public.

Weill Hall

SEAS Sustainability Clinic

The SEAS Sustainability Clinic aims to improve the ability of the City of Detroit and nonprofits serving the City to address the impacts of climate change on the natural and built environment, human health, and the city’s finances—while working to enhance sustainability policy and action.

SEAS Sustainability Clinic

Sustainable Food Systems Initiative

The U-M Sustainable Food Systems (SFSI) Initiative engages an interdisciplinary mix of students, faculty, and communities at local and global levels to learn from and build food systems that are health-promoting, economically viable, equitable, and ecologically sound. SFSI, which boasts more than 70 faculty affiliates from across the university, offers a vision of a foundation regarding the development of sustainable and equitable ways to produce and deliver nutritious food so as to improve people’s health and livelihoods, with minimal environmental damage and lasting economic security. The initiative hosts a community-academic partnership course, “Food Literacy for All,” which features different guest speakers each week to address diverse challenges and opportunities of both domestic and global food systems.

A farmer speaking to a group of students at a farm