Earth Day 2023: Justice in Focus

School for Environment and Sustainability

After three years of COVID, we are emerging from multiple crises: global pandemic, economic downturn and mass inflation, and a crisis of racial inequality. Earth Day 2023: Justice in Focus seeks to put justice and Earth in the same conversation, removing the silos of environment, human social systems, and political ecology. The University of Michigan, led by the Tishman Center for Social Justice and the Environment at the School for Environment and Sustainability, will bring forth a critical dialogue with emerging and powerful leaders on the frontlines. Participants will have the opportunity to hear from local and national leaders on the inner workings of organizations, solutions, and leadership that emerged through the pandemic.

Registration link

UMRA-U-M Retirees Association Presents: Climate Change and What it Means for the Great Lakes

Dean Overpeck is an interdisciplinary climate scientist and has led active climate research programs on five continents. His research is focused on understanding drought and megadrought dynamics (and risk) the world over. He has also served as the lead investigator of Climate Assessment for the Southwest and the SW Climate Science Center – two major programs focused on regional climate adaptation . He has appeared and testified before congress multiple times, is a Fellow of American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published over 220 works on cllimate and the environmental sciences.

Housing and Transportation: What’s the Climate Connection?

Housing and Transportation

Housing and transportation together account for 42% of our carbon emissions. To minimize climate change, we need to make our buildings more efficient, utilize land and building envelopes more efficiently, and create housing options that allow us to dramatically reduce vehicle miles traveled. What impact do transportation and housing choices have on carbon emissions, affordability, and livability?

Join us for a panel discussion led by housing and transportation experts:

  • Jan Culbertson (Senior Principal Emeritus, A3C and Leadership Council Chair, Ann Arbor 2030 District)

  • Reid Ewing (Distinguished Professor of City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah)

  • Christopher Laurent (President, Cinnaire Solutions)

  • Jonathan Levine (Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

In-person registration link

Online registration link 

Martha Schwartz: Climate Change and the Importance of the Urban Landscape

Climate Change Landscape

As Founding Partner of Martha Schwartz Partners, Landscape Architects, Martha Schwartz is a world-renowned designer. She has over 40 years of experience designing and implementing large scale masterplans, mixed-use developments, urban regeneration projects, as well as civic plazas, parks, institutional landscapes, corporate headquarters, installations, and gardens. Martha Schwartz Partners works with city leaders, planners and builders at a strategic level so as to advocate for the inclusion of the public landscape as a means to achieve environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Martha Schwartz received her Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, then studied Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design between 1976 – 1977, then went back to the University of Michigan to receive a Masters of Landscape Architecture in 1977. As a tenured Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (HGSD) for 30 years, she is advancing the knowledge of Climate Change, its causes, effects, and the awareness of new solutions coming out of science, including the science of ​“Climate Intervention” also known as ​“Geoengineering”.

Schwartz is the recipient of numerous awards and prizes including the Honorary Royal Designer for Industry Award from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce for her outstanding contribution to UK design; the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award; the Women in Design Award for Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects; an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Ulster in Belfast, Ireland; a fellowship from the Urban Design Institute; visiting residencies at Radcliffe College and the American Academy in Rome; an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Institute of British Architects; and most recently, a Council of Fellows Award by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Most recently, she has created a non-profit organization, MAYDAY.EARTH which focuses on the climate crisis and climate change solutions such as nature-based solutions and the science of solar geoengineering, our only option that can cool down our planet and buy us time to transition to renewable energy.

Educating Ethical Engineers

Dr. Cynthia Finelli
In today’s society, the need to graduate engineers who are conscious of their ethical and professional responsibilities is more important than ever. This is especially difficult given the current media environment that publicizes reports of algorithmic bias, drone-based surveillance, and emissions falsification (among other issues) but provides few positive role models for students. While engineering programs have made significant strides to incorporate ethics instruction into the engineering curriculum, there is little evidence about which approaches best prepare students to address the ethical challenges they will face in the workforce. In this session, Dr. Finelli will present research about the state of undergraduate ethics instruction and it’s long term impact, propose a new approach to ethics instruction, and offer two course-based approaches to better educate ethical engineers.

21st Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability: Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

Join Robinson as she shares her passion for climate justice, human dignity, gender equality and women’s participation in peace-building. She will highlight the urgent need for climate change action and how local, community-based action can grow into a global effort to build a sustainable future.

The Peter M. Wege Lecture Series focuses on the critical sustainability challenges of the 21st century, such as energy security and declining fossil resources, global climate change, freshwater scarcity, ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, and sustainability strategies in developed and developing nations. Named in honor of Peter M. Wege, late vice-chair of the board of Steelcase, Inc., and renowned sustainability champion, the series brings internationally recognized leaders in sustainability to the University of Michigan campus.

This in-person event is free and open to the public; reserve your ticket here.

Governing for environmental justice

Rashida Tlaib, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, and Stephanie Chang (left to right)

Whether efficient public transit, climate change, or air and water pollution, marginalized communities are regularly denied access to healthy environments. Differences in power and political voice create differential impacts of our changing environment—natural and built—on these communities, compromising access to basic necessities like clean water and breathable air. Legislation to redress these differential impacts requires policymakers to work hand in glove with the communities they represent.

Join Dr. Abdul El-Sayed – physician, epidemiologist, and newly appointed Director of the Wayne County Health, Human & Veterans Services Department, and a Ford School Towsley Policymaker in Residence – for a conversation with policymakers at the intersection of social justice and environmental concerns. Dr. El-Sayed will be joined by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Michigan Senator Stephanie Chang to reflect on their work to address environmental injustice in Michigan and beyond, and the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Co-sponsored by the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. 

Registration link

Biodiversity, Coffee Production, and Dignified Livelihoods Under a Globalized Economy

Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions Flyer

Real World Perspectives on Poverty Solutions FlyerDr. Ivette Perfecto is the James E. Crowfoot Collegiate Professor of Environmental Justice at the School for Environment And Sustainability (SEAS) at the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on biodiversity and arthropod-mediated ecosystem services in rural and urban agriculture. Her lab conducts agroecological research in Latin America and North America, focusing on the impacts of agriculture on biodiversity and the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. She is the co-author of four books: Breakfast of Biodiversity, Nature’s Matrix: Linking Agriculture, Conservation and Food Sovereignty, Coffee Agroecology, and Ecological Complexity and Agroecology. In 2022 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

The talks, which are free and open to the public, will also be livestreamed on YouTube. U-M students can participate in the series as a one-credit course – look for it as SWK 503 section 001.

Climate justice for whom? A critical perspective on low-carbon transitions

Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool

Dr. Benjamin K. SovacoolWhat are the types of injustices associated with low-carbon transitions? Relatedly, in what ways do low-carbon transitions worsen social risks or vulnerabilities? Lastly, what policies might be deployed to make these transitions more just?

Join SEAS and STPP for a talk with Dr. Benjamin K. Sovacool, Professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University and Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School in the United Kingdom.

Earthfest 2022

Earthfest September 22, 2022
Earthfest September 22, 2022Earthfest celebrates sustainability initiatives across U-M and the surrounding communities, while providing an inclusive platform to educate and engage the campus community on opportunities to support sustainability and environmental justice on campus and in our daily lives. Come learn about sustainability on campus and participate in fun engagement opportunities.