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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.

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 sustainability and public health include:

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

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

Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Center

Funded in 2013 by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the UM-CEHC studies if and how exposure to EDC mixtures (bisphenol A, phthalates, lead and cadmium) during pregnancy and puberty affects growth, sexual maturation, and risk of metabolic syndrome. The UM-CEHC also explores whether diet can alter these effects. Research findings will foster a better understanding of how chemicals and diet interact and will inform the design of future interventions to improve children's health.

Children in bright clothing running through a field on a summer day

Healthy Environments Partnership

The Healthy Environments Partnership (HEP), established in 2000, is a partnership among: Detroit-based community organizations (Chandler Park Conservancy, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Friends of Parkside, Eastside Community Network); public health agencies (Detroit Health Department, Institute for Population Health); health service organizations (Henry Ford Health System); and academic institutions (the U-M School of Public Health), and community members. HEP uses a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to: conduct research to better understand the relationship between the environment and cardiovascular disease, and to develop, implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve the heart health of Detroit residents.

A group of people's feet forming a circle

Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease

The Michigan Center on Lifestage Environmental Exposures and Disease (M-LEEaD) is a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Core Center. M-LEEaD improves our understanding of the contribution of environmental exposures toward the etiology of chronic diseases and conditions like asthma, neurodegenerative diseases, metabolic syndrome and prematurity.

Belle Isle sunset in winter with the Detroit skyline in the background

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 at a conference

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 woman speaking to a group of students at an urban farm

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

U-M Water Center

Working with scientists and partners, the U-M Water Center addresses water resource challenges in the Great Lakes region and nationally, by fostering collaborative research that informs policy and management decisions affecting our waters. Housed within U-M’s Graham Sustainability Institute, the center receives major support from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and NOAA.

Water washing up on a beach

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.

Aerial map of Detroit