Vitor Machado Lira

Originally published: 
June, 2017

Meet Vitor Machado Lira: graduate student ­– Master of Science, Class of 2016
Fields of study: Behavior, Education and Communication; Conservation Ecology; Environmental Justice

How would you define SEAS’s mission?
SEAS’s mission is to provide its students the qualitative and quantitative skills they need to excel in their careers and help their community wherever they go. Fueled – pardon the pun - by the startling impacts of global climate change, the administration and faculty live and breathe their research and inspire students to pursue their passion for the environment.

What brought you to SEAS?
Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in philosophy, I was looking for an institution that could challenge me to apply my critical thinking skills to many complex issues of local and global dimensions, and SEAS seemed to be the perfect fit.

During Visit Day, I got to experience the enthusiastic atmosphere within the four walls of the Dana Building and that made a difference among the other programs and schools I was considering. A year and half later, I realize how much the interdisciplinary framework at SEAS is an unique feature, even in comparison to other U-M programs.

My experiences here have allowed me to explore multiple perspectives on the most pressing economic, environmental, social, and political issues of our time, and I believe it will take me wherever I want to go next.

Where will SEAS take you next? Tell us about your research project.
In the short term, I see myself working on sustainability initiatives for environmental consultancy firms in the private sector, ideally in California’s Bay Area. In the long term, I would like to be involved in civic and environmental education, shaping the character of future generations.

From a young age I wanted to know more about the best ways to improve the status quo and SEAS has given me fantastic tools to do just that. My capstone project is concerned with environmental decision-making and I have partnered up with some of the most prestigious scholars at our institution to create a handbook (and online material) on their experiences and outlook on their fields’ impact in society.

Through interviews about their careers and discussions of current developments in business, governance, and science, my intention is that this project will distribute knowledge and insight from the world’s top researchers out to the public (shortening the height of the Ivory Tower of higher education).