Over the course of the program, Dow and the university hope to attract 300 Dow Sustainability Fellows, including masters, doctoral, and postdoctoral students from fields as diverse as chemistry, engineering, economics, law, public policy, and architecture. The university will begin receiving applications from students for the program next fall.
“They will be inspired to work together, as they would in the real world, to develop concrete solutions, actionable solutions on how we can all live cleaner, and actually greener, and sustainably on this precious planet of ours,” said Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris in announcing the fellowship program before a gathering of the Detroit Economic Club.
“The uniqueness of this program is that it is not rooted in one discipline or any unit of the university,” noted University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman at the event. “It is as broad and comprehensive as sustainability itself.”
Dow hopes to reap a business benefit from the program as a potential future employer for the fellows. “Hopefully some of them will work for Dow eventually,” Liveris noted. Dow and the university will share any intellectual property that emerges from fellowship research projects.
The fellowship program is one of several investments Dow has made with academic partners in recent months. Last October, the company said it will spend $250 million over 10 years to support breakthrough chemical technologies at 11 major universities and help increase the number of chemistry and chemical engineering Ph.D.s at the schools. Last month, Dow said it will donate $3.5 million to the college of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, to rebuild the school’s undergraduate teaching labs and design a green-chemistry-based curriculum.
With the University of Michigan program, Dow hopes to foster new thinking about sustainability. “Most people believe we actually need to make a choice: growth of the economy on the one hand, protection of the environment on the other,” Liveris said. “But that truly is an old paradigm.”