Dean Jonathan Overpeck and Dean F. DuBois Bowman, School of Public Health

Dean's Letter

Climate change is an issue that impacts all of us and cannot be solved by any one discipline alone. In this issue of Stewards, you will learn more about the many partnerships that enrich this work across sustainability, health, engineering, business, public policy, and many other disciplines.

History Timeline


1903-1926 Department of Forestry

When U-M was founded in 1817, a vast forest of white pine carpeted swaths of Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, trees often reaching heights of 200 feet. Within a few decades, rivers like the Saginaw were choked with timber bound for the sawmills—as the nation’s demand for lumber outgrew its supply.
The School of Forestry and Conservation

1927-1949 The School of Forestry and Conservation

Always on the leading edge of education, U-M identified the need to broaden the curriculum in the Department of Forestry. As plans to expand the department coalesced in the months leading up to 1927, a man named Samuel Trask Dana was offered the position of chair of the Department of Forestry.
1954  Society of Les Voyageurs inductees

1950-1991 The School of Natural Resources

Following Dana’s lead, the School of Forestry and Conservation became the School of Natural Resources (SNR) in 1950. The decade of the 1950s was one of growth for the country and SNR.
Students in the field with the institute of fisheries research, 2004

1992-2017 The School of Natural Resources and Environment

The rise of the modern environmental movement in the late 1960s had awakened public awareness in the intervening decades. There was now a global movement concerned with the issues of increasing population, the health effects from industrial pollution—and the alarming loss of old-growth forests, clean drinking water, fertile top soil, and wildlife.
2018 SEAS faculty

2017-Present: The School for Environment and Sustainability

Once again, the school that began as a small department in 1903 saw the need to further evolve in order to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world. This resulted in the creation of the School for Environment and Sustainability in 2017, which aims to provide a focal point and a leading voice of the campus community on sustainability in association with environment and society.

1881-2019 The Big Ten+2

1881-2019 The Big Ten +2

Throughout our history, we have changed the game in the environmental fields through the innovations and achievements of our alumni, faculty, and students. Here, we highlight a few of our "leaders and best."

Saginaw Forest

The Properties

More than a century ago, when Filibert Roth led his students—hefting spades and armloads of saplings—into Saginaw Forest, he instilled a tradition of field-based learning that remains vibrant at SEAS today. Throughout the decades, students have navigated the land, forests, lakes, and rivers—first as students of nature, and then, as stewards of the environment.

Research Themes

meet the future cover

Meeting the Future

Designed as rallying points for collaborations around research, teaching, and civic engagement, the school’s new sustainability themes provide a framework for students, faculty, and staff across campus to be involved in a wide range of interdisciplinary activities in partnership with SEAS.

A flying car

Meeting the Future: Cities+Mobility+Built Environment

More than half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, with this percentage projected to increase dramatically in coming decades. The health of our planet and its inhabitants depends on developing new strategies for human settlement and activity that foster sustainable outcomes. The SEAS community responds by working to build infrastructure to foster human connectivity.

MCity cars

Meeting the Future: Climate+Energy

Climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing society, requires large-scale implementation of both mitigation and adaptation strategies. Transforming the energy system through supply and demand changes is critical to address this challenge. The SEAS community responds by working to provide energy solutions for stable climate systems.
Flood in city

Meeting the Future: Conservation+Restoration

Nearly everything humans eat, drink, and breathe is the product of a living organism that inhabits a natural or human-dominated ecosystem. Protecting biological diversity and ecosystem function through conservation and restoration is necessary to produce the goods and services that allow people to prosper. The SEAS community responds by working to protect the Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Meeting the Future: Food Systems

Feeding the growing human population in a sustainable fashion requires transforming food systems to be health-promoting, economically viable, equitable, and ecologically sound. Solving this challenge involves tackling issues around food production systems, food security, and food sovereignty at local, national, and global scales. The SEAS community responds by generating food security for human needs.

Saginaw Bay Watershed Lake Sturgeon Release, Flint River

Meeting the Future: Water

Lack of adequate water is a global crisis that affects more than a billion people worldwide. Sustainability challenges associated with population growth, climate change, land use, energy choices, and global poverty must be addressed to increase water quantity, availability, and quality around the world. The SEAS community responds by working to generate water security for human needs.

Beatriz Cañas (MS ‘15) has been honored as one of this year’s North American Association for Environmental Education Top 30 under 30

Class Notes

A compilation of news and updates from SEAS and PitE alumni, all in one spot.