Taubman College Awarded Dow Sustainability Award

March 4, 2009 ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The University of Michigan’s Urban and Regional Planning capstone class on Community-Based Sustainable Food Systems recently was awarded The Dow Chemical Company’s Dow Sustainability Innovation Student Challenge award. The student challenge award recognizes the Taubman College students for innovative sustainability efforts. The group will receive $10,000 to support further research.

UM’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning was selected as a finalist, competing with internationally known competitors that included Cambridge University, Northwestern University, Peking University, Tufts University, and the University of Sao Paolo as well as other U-M schools for the honor.

“Building sustainable environments is a fundamental component of the urban and regional planning field,” said Jonathan Levine, UM’s urban and regional planning program chair. “As municipalities and metropolitan areas plan for important cultural, physical, and social resources, sustainability needs to be a core value. Our curriculum builds it into many aspects of students’ work.”

Their winning entry is entitled “What is a Community-Based, Sustainable Food System? Defining Elements and Identifying Encouraging Examples for Application in Detroit.” The product of their research will be a publication available online and in print. The first part of the publication will focus on defining elements of a community-based food system and identifying existing barriers.

The second part of the publication will profile sustainable food case studies, summarizing factual information and highlighting innovation. The third part will focus on applying these innovations in the context of Detroit. The final chapter of the publication will offer Detroit residents and decision-makers concrete suggestions and implementation strategies. The publication is intended to be an engaging resource for interested community residents, organizations, and municipalities interested in community-based food systems from diverse settings. The team is lead by assistant professor Larissa Larsen, who also holds an appointment at UM’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

The winning team includes students Rachel Arndt, Rebecca Cheney, Jaimie Cohen, Allison Craddock, Stephanie Etkin, Caitlin Greeley, Brendan Moriarty, Nicholas Posavetz, Catherine Sanders, and Joshua Stacey. Eric Dueweke, community partnerships manager for the college, assisted as an additional faculty advisor.