School of Natural Resources and Environment

Environmental Policy & Planning News & Highlights

Butt and Xu win CAREER awards

Two SNRE assistant professors recently earned National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards — the organization’s most prestigious program for supporting early-career scientists. According to the NSF, CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. 

On December 14, 2015, the New York Times published the following letter to the editor by SNRE Associate Professor Thomas Princen. The letter was a response to the outcome of the 21st Conference of Parties, recently held in Paris and attended by a delegation of U-M students and faculty from SNRE and across campus.

To the Editor:

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Launch Conservation Scholars Program

The School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan has launched a new program to introduce greater diversity into the environmental conservation workforce. The program, funded by a generous grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, enables U-M to join four other universities across the country that administer the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program: Northern Arizona University, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Florida, and University of Washington.

Close to 50,000 government leaders, private industry innovators, environmental advocates, and others will be gathering in Paris from November 30 through December 11, 2015, for the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), a meeting of the countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Among them are eight University of Michigan students and two faculty members, this year’s U-M delegation, which has been part of the annual event since 2009.

Today, I visited the World Expo in Milan, where the theme is Feeding the World - Energy for Life.  This was the first time that the World Expo was explicitly focused around finding solutions to the world food crisis.  We live in a world where 800-900 million people are chronically undernourished, and 2.8 million people die each year from obesity-related causes.  There is no denying we live in an era of food crisis.  Each nation was asked to prevent its vision for contributing to solving world hunger.  The pavilions were as varied and eye catching as the countries that occupied them.

The motto of Slow Food - "Good, Clean, Fair" - is one of food justice; justice for farmers, eaters, and the Earth. Advocates acknowledge that this path is not a cheap or economical one, however, they openly reject economics as a measure of desirability. Quality of life, it is argued, is a more complete metric for the effect that policy has on human well-being. There is no better time or place to start good quality habits than in schools, where the future of every nation is shaped.

This is the message of Carlo Petrini, the portly, ever-smiling founder of Slow Food International. Value, he reminds the 2,500+ gathered. attendees, is not price. Value honors the people who grew the food, the Earth that fostered it, and the environment that makes each item unique. I heard similar stories everywhere yesterday. Young farmers, ranchers, fishermen, activists, and community organizers all say that returning to the land or the ocean to produce food has brought unspeakable value to, not only their lives, but their communities and environment as well.

On Friday, March 13, Governor Rick Snyder addressed Michigan citizens and legislature about the importance of reliable, affordable, environmentally protective energy sources, including hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking'. Governor Snyder specifically praised the importance of the Graham Sustainability Institute's draft report on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which includes peer-reviewed technical reports, and a detailed draft analysis of policy options for the future of hydraulic fracturing in Michigan. 

Last Thursday, the second annual University of Michigan Innovation In Action competition concluded, with six stunning student pitches for startups that could make a significant dent on the health and well-being of communities. It was a great example of what can be achieved at the intersection of public health, entrepreneurship, and the creativity and energy that students can bring to real-world problems.

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