Let’s face it, the Wolverine State doesn’t have a great reputation for environmental sustainability. The prevailing outside perspective revolves around the Motor City and gritty places like Lansing and Flint. The hulks of abandoned factories that have turned into SuperFund cleanup sites don’t speak to a great history of attention to sustainable development.
But there are elements that are often overlooked in Michigan’s environmental legacy that are more to our credit, and offer a model not only for sustainability students in our state, but around the country. Much of the Upper Peninsula remains in a pristine state that is the envy of the country, and with the longest freshwater coastline of any state in the nation, we’ve been instrumental in preserving and protecting shoreline ecosystems and the Great Lakes environment.
There is still a lot of work to do in environmental sustainability throughout Michigan and around the world, though, and we’re also a state with terrific resources for students who want to enter the field today. Michigan universities offer a broad array of sustainability programs and companies here have plenty of work for students once they graduate.
Sustainability Jobs Available in Michigan With the Right Degree
As you might imagine, preserving water quality has been a hot-button issue in Michigan recently, so there are no shortage of research and sustainability positions dealing with water source contamination and protection. AECOM, a leading infrastructure development company, is among those in the private sector hiring sustainability experts focused on water quality issues.
State universities and the state government are also common sources of employment for sustainability experts. The universities here offering degrees in sustainability might also be your hottest employment prospects, including Michigan State University and the University of Michigan.
Master’s in Sustainability Available Through Schools in Michigan
Michigan is fortunate to have a lot of strong educational institutions, but you’ll find a handful keep popping up when sustainability is the subject, particularly the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. With so many different areas to explore in sustainable studies, though, you can find schools all over the state with strengths in the field.
Little Kendall College in Grand Rapids has long been a well-respected source of well-trained architecture students. Now, their Master of Architecture includes transdisciplinary collaborative design elements that helps those students understand the role of the built environment in natural ecosystems, as well as design buildings with both sustainability and livability in mind.
UM offers a Master of Urban Planning with a concentration in Land Use and Environmental Planning that brings an ecologically and economically vibrant approach to resolving the conflicts that inevitably arise in any discussion and planning around urban development.
Aquinas College in Grand Rapids can prepare you for a business career in a world that increasingly values sustainability through their Master of Management with a Sustainable Business concentration. With courses in industrial ecology and a practical exposure to real-world industry considerations through the Sustainable Innovations Lab, you’ll get a preview of in-demand practices long before you graduate.
Policy and Energy
It might seem odd that a tech school would be the best shot for policy prescriptions, but Michigan Tech delivers some of the best in the state with the MS program in Environmental and Energy Policy. You’ll be exposed to the historical, cultural, and social dimensions of environmental issues to get a firm background in the forces that shape our current and future policy options in everything from recycling to wind energy deployments.
The University of Michigan is your go-to institution for technology and systems analysis approaches to sustainability, as exemplified in their Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment with the Sustainable Systems concentration. Achieving sustainable design through technology assessment is a key piece of the program, together with sustainable decisions-making and enterprise factors.
Sustainability Bachelor Degree Programs in Michigan
Before you launch into an in-depth study of sustainability at the master’s degree level, though, you need to find a firm footing through a suitable bachelor’s degree program in the field.
Michigan offers you a few choices in that vein, among them the superb BA in Sustainability Studies at Albion College. Concentrations in environmental science and environmental studies allow you to tailor the degree to support any kind of engineering position in sustainability, or a wide array of master’s programs if you should decide to further your studies before entering the workforce.