What is the Year of Sustainability?

Resulting from the recommendations of the LSA Carbon Neutrality Task Force and the leadership of Dean Curzan, 2024 has been named the “Year of Sustainability” for LSA. The primary objective of this year is to bring the LSA community together on key topics related to the climate crisis, evaluate our progress towards broader U-M goals so far, and to launch strategies which augment our college’s response. Throughout 2024, LSA will implement new programming and funding opportunities to support our community, including units and student groups. The Year of Sustainability programming covers climate action, carbon neutrality, topics of LSA community interest, and the intersectional nature of our shared environment from the perspective of all three divisions of LSA.

At the conclusion of this year, this website and collaboratively-generated recommendations will transition to Sustainable LSA. This lasting initiative will guide future work as LSA supports U-M’s ambitious, multi-campus transition through lowered emissions, waste reduction, built environment, and more. While our 2024 programming and events are designed primarily for the LSA community, all U-M departments and individuals are welcome to participate.

Our Mission

The Year of Sustainability aims to uphold the mission, vision, and values of LSA through this year and in any future work. The Year of Sustainability and its affiliated programming seek to be inclusive, action- and solution-oriented, educational, connected to mental and physical health, interdisciplinary, and responsive to the broader LSA community’s needs.

The realities of climate change and environmental racism are disproportionately experienced by communities and individuals who have already been marginalized. Our team will prioritize environmental and climate justice in dialogue with subject matter experts and campus– and college– wide D.E.I work. We also acknowledge long-standing representation issues within the realm of sustainability and climate action. The Year of Sustainability will provide opportunities to explore these and other intersections together as LSA envisions a just and low-carbon future.

Planet Blue and LSA

The University of Michigan is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, with additional goals around watershed protection, transportation, community engagement, waste reduction, justice, and beyond. LSA is committed to being a strong partner on this journey. You can learn more about University-level climate action and goals through the campuswide Planet Blue initiative or through U-M’s Office of Campus Sustainability.

Throughout the Year of Sustainability, the organizing team seeks to further engage our LSA community in this existing work, identify opportunities for LSA to reduce our impact in alignment with central strategy, and celebrate the contributions of so many in our college so far. We acknowledge the privilege and opportunity of being the largest college at the University of Michigan and are excited to offer additional resources to our community during this year with an eye to the future.

Dean Curzan’s message on the Year of Sustainability

Meet Our Team!

Faculty Leadership

Image: Anne McNeil, wearing a floral shirt, short brown hair, with rectangular glasses.

Meet Anne McNeil! She is currently the Carol A. Fierke Collegiate Professor of Chemistry and Macromolecular Science and Engineering and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and HHMI Professor. Her research aims to contribute to a more sustainable future, with a focus on repurposing waste plastics, measuring and attenuating environmental microplastics, and synthesizing materials for renewable energy storage.    

Image: Nate Sanders, wearing a blue collared shirt, with short grey hair.

Meet Nate Sanders! He is currently the Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. His research is at the interface of community ecology, ecosystem ecology and macroecology, with a focus on how global change drivers and interspecific interactions influence the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss.

Supporting Faculty

Meet Sara Soderstrom! She is currently the Director of the Program in the Environment, an Associate Professor in Organizational Studies, and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor. Her research aims to contribute an organizational perspective on how society develops solutions to critical global sustainability issues. She studies how individuals within organizations mobilize others, develop coalitions, and access key decision makers.

Meet Julie Cole! She is currently the Chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and is a Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research focuses on recent climate change, emphasizing variability in tropical oceans and coral reef environments and drought in the western U.S. She teaches in the areas of climate, oceanography, and science communication.

Staff Leadership

Image: Dan Rife, wearing blue and white striped shirt, black jacket, with short brown hair.

Meet Dan Rife! He is the Director of LSA Facilities and Operations. He and his team support all of the nearly 2 million square feet of space occupied by LSA units across 25 different campus buildings and leased spaces.  Dan’s early career work as a Planet Blue Program Manager and LSA Energy Engineer have helped launch sustainability initiatives across the university’s campus.

Image: Caitlin Jacobs, wearing a dark blue shirt, black suit jacket, with light red hair.

Meet Caitlin Jacobs! She is the Carbon Neutrality Program Manager for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She works alongside LSA community members and leadership to advance strategies aligned with LSA’s mission and U-M’s campus goals. Before joining the University of Michigan in June 2023, Caitlin supported campus sustainability at the University of Notre Dame.

Image: Jenna Steele, wearing brown shirt, light brown hair, with square glasses.

Meet Jenna Steele! She is the Year of Sustainability and Carbon Neutrality Program Assistant for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. As a recent graduate of Wayne State University, she places a special emphasis on the development of student skills and emotional awareness around the climate crisis. She works to implement Year of Sustainability programming and opportunities for LSA.