The Michigan Daily: LSA names 2024 as “Year of Sustainability”

This article was originally posted to The Michigan Daily by Andrew Baum on November 12, 2023.

LSA Dean Anne Curzan announced in an email to the LSA community on Oct. 30 that the 2024 calendar year would be named the “Year of Sustainability” to support the University of Michigan’s role in envisioning campus climate practices. The Year of Sustainability will include a variety of revisions to the LSA students’ experience and feature faculty and student collaborations to promote sustainability classes and reduce the carbon and material footprint of the University.  

The year-long program deviates from the college’s typical theme semesters but is similar in its goals to unite faculty, staff and students in tangible change and active education. In the email, Curzan said she encouraged University of Michigan students to explore sustainability in various disciplines, promoting a more interdisciplinary approach to environmental-related topics. In a video linked in the email, Curzan said the Year of Sustainability would be important for the LSA community because of future policy and research implications.

“This will be a launchpad for new classes and new research for new sustainable operations, including policies and physical interventions. Really a push for us to do the research, to have the conversations, to make the changes that will lead to real, long-term culture change,” Curzan said in the video. 

Between 2021 and 2022, the LSA Carbon Neutrality Task Force — made up of members of U-M facilities and operations teams, research and education teams and former ENVIRON 391 students — compiled several recommendations for moving toward a more environmentally-conscious University in a report. 

In the report, the task force suggested LSA name 2024 the Year of Sustainability to further the University’s dedication to sustainability and climate action.

“We recommend focusing our college-wide efforts in 2024 to both launch many of the initiatives outlined here and to organize a series of discussions and events focused on carbon neutrality and environmental/climate justice with efforts to engage faculty, staff, and students,” the report said.

Caitlin Jacobs, LSA carbon neutrality program manager, works directly on the college’s carbon neutrality plans and collaborates with campus environmental programs to engage with students. In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Jacobs emphasized the importance of acknowledging the overlap of sustainability and other aspects of LSA’s mission such as DEI, food accessibility and mental health of students.

“It’s really not sustainable if we’re not talking about DEI,” Jacobs said. “I’m talking about all these other things that intersect. … We’re responsible for how people feel when they hear challenging information about the environmental state.”

As part of the Year of Sustainability, LSA is launching an Incentives and Innovations fund to encourage students and campus organizations to take action in reducing their own carbon footprint. The funds will go towards proposals from the campus community that offer innovative approaches to tangible solutions for climate action on campus. To apply for the Incentives or Innovations fund, applicants must submit a project proposal and overview outlining campus goals. While the application is not yet open, it will be reviewed on a monthly basis starting in January 2024 and award grants until funds are exhausted.

LSA is still formulating its plans for the upcoming Year of Sustainability program but plans to launch the complete program in January 2024.

LSA sophomore Bea Kaskie, a Planet Blue student leader said she believes collaboration within the student body is vital to the success of the Year of Sustainability.  

“It takes collaboration with individual responsibility,” Kaskie said. “Although you’re just a small drop in the ocean, you are a part of that ocean and you have a responsibility to take care of.” 

Daily News Contributor Andrew Baum can be reached at

By stejenna

Jenna Steele is the Year of Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality Program Assistant for U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.

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