Sarah Mills, Ph.D. U.R.P. ’15, will join Taubman College as an associate professor of practice in urban and regional planning beginning in fall 2023. Currently a lecturer in the School for Environment and Sustainability and a senior project manager at the Graham Sustainability Institute, Mills has a wealth of experience in teaching and applied work with rural communities.
As senior project manager for the Graham Sustainability Institute’s climate and energy activities, Mills manages the University of Michigan’s partnership with the Michigan Office of Climate and Energy, helping communities across the state consider energy in their land use planning, zoning, and other policymaking. She has worked directly with Michigan communities on initiatives such as the Catalyst Communities program. The program, which she conceptualized, helped the state develop a range of resources and programs that meet communities where they are in thinking about decarbonization.
Mills is also passionate about sharing her knowledge with University of Michigan students. In 2021, she developed and taught a course titled “Renewable Energy Policy at the State and Local Level” at the Ford School of Public Policy. The course introduces students to the range of state and local policies that impact renewable energy development and helps them understand how those policies interact and the politics behind their adoption.
“I am lucky that my non-linear career path and personal experiences that span the urban-rural continuum led me to become one of the few planners in the country who is thinking deeply about renewable energy infrastructure,” said Mills. “I have prioritized making my applied work on siting renewable energy infrastructure accessible to practitioners and the public and integrating it into my university teaching. While it’s not the typical mix for an academic, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing than this combination of practice and teaching. I’m excited to plug my experience and expertise into the urban and regional planning curriculum.”
Larissa Larsen, urban and regional planning chair and associate professor, is excited to welcome Mills to the faculty at Taubman College. “Sarah’s expertise in energy planning means our students will understand the spatial implications of the energy transition that’s underway. Sarah’s thinking extends beyond an engineering approach to foresee how new energy sources can bring benefits to rural and urban areas and how collaborative planning is as necessary as new transmission lines and equipment,” said Larsen.