Origins of the Fellowship

In setting up this Fellowship between the Population Studies Center (PSC) and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), I started with the fundamental belief that interdisciplinary research and collaboration are necessary to the future of universities and to their ability to solve societal problems.

In the last few years, I have supported an interdisciplinary program between the Department of Philosophy within the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and the cognitive sciences and have been further impressed with the importance of interdisciplinary research as well as the role that donors can play and facilitating this.

I also believe that the great ideas that will solve societal problems are going to come from our best and brightest young thinkers—our graduate students.

I believe that people don't realize that the population is part of the environment. Furthermore, it is the character of the population, including its economics and location as well as its size that are critical. These characteristics are as important as the flora and fauna.

I have confidence in the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center for two reasons. When I began to become aware of the importance of population studies to our future, I talked to scientists at the Brookdale Institute in Israel who said that the UM population center was the most important such center in the world. Later, I talked to leading scientists at the Population Council in New York who said that PSC was the most outstanding center in the country. Therefore, I was extremely encouraged to invest in PSC. Through the Center, I have been supporting graduate student research around the world, and I have seen how research grants of this type play a role in shaping the careers of new scholars.

For several years, I have become increasingly concerned about our environment and have been involved in the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). I was fortunate enough to meet Dean Rosina Bierbaum at a U-M football game and was immediately impressed. My contacts at LCV and NRDC confirmed that Rosina was one of the most important thinkers in the field and had been a very influential advisor to President Clinton. I also learned that the School of Natural Resources and the Environment was a national leader.

I decided to create the Marshall Weinberg Population, Development and Climate Change Fellows Fund to link these two great units to address a problem that is so important to our future. The Weinberg Fellows Program will provide graduate students from across the University of Michigan campus with the resources to take their ideas and test them in different settings around the world and then bring them back to the intellectual community at the University of Michigan.

Marshall Weinberg
Summer 2011
New York City