Developing Policy on Environmental Quality, Schools, and Health (2012)

Client Organization: 
Kresge Foundation
Project Location : 
Summary of Project Idea: 

Currently, there is no state or federal regulation that considers environmental hazards when sitting new schools in Michigan. Effective school sitting policies can reduce childhood pollution exposure levels and improve test scores and overall child development and health, as well as reduce excess, hidden costs for schools constructed on environmentally hazardous sites. A responsibly-crafted statewide policy on school sitting could benefit communities, while ensuring that children in the state are able to receive an education in a healthy environment. The master's project goal is to develop a policy recommendation for school sitting and environmental quality in Michigan. To achieve this goal, the master's project team drew from the experiences of other U.S. states that already have school sitting policies. The team also engaged a diverse range of stakeholders here in the state of Michigan from researchers to school administrators to land use planners and government officials. Utilizing the EPA's new released school sitting guidelines and a growing body of current research, the team drafted a series of recommendations suited to the state of Michigan and its schools.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • Legislative and policy research skills
  • Excellent writing skills
  • Interest in GIS
  • Comfortable interacting with government officials
SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Justice
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will:

  • Experience in developing policy that could be applied by the Federal, State, and Local governments
  • Become familiarized with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis
  • Build relationships with national and state Environmental Justice NGOs, governmental actors, educators and educational agencies.
  • Expand their ability to research legislation and discern politically successful legislative actions
  • Create practical and applicable solutions for environmental injustices
  • Be able to develop environmentally safe school siting assessments
  • Participate in a community based and real world project
  • Present findings to both academic, non-profit and governmental audiences
Funding Sources: 

 Kresge Foundation (potential)

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

 Published report to be used by Michigan legislature and non-profit organizations

SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Paul Mohai and Byung-Suk Kweon
Contact Phone: 
Contact e-mail: 
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Elizabeth Fox, MS, Environmental Justice/ Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Nate Schafrick, MS/MPH, Conservation Biology
  • Mozhgon Rajaee, MS/MPH, Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Rebecca Brown, MS, Environmental Policy and Planning
  • Emily Etue, MS, Environmental Policy and Planning
Project Status: 
Past Project