University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education


The great Minnesota State Fair AND Welcome Week2014 are finally here and Sustainability Action is right around the corner. Just as you go into the State Fair with a plan (Sweet Martha’s first or last???), and move in during Welcome Week with a plan (pro-tip: Make your guardian(s) and the Welcome Week Leaders carry everything) we want you to be ready going into Sust Action. Here is a list of all the attractions and ‘vendors’ to look for at “The Great Class of 2018 Sustainability Get Together.”


Food Day: “Healthy sustainable food for all! Every October we host an event (Food Day) that is open to the entire campus that encourages student to become active and engaged in our local food system.”

U of M Recycling Program: Featuring a bale of PET Plastic bottles at their booth, the U of M Recylcing Program provides information about the University’s Recycling Program on campus and in the Residence Halls and how students can participate each time they need to dispose of an item.

MPIRG: “We will have several different environmental/sustainability represented at this event. Our main focus is sustainable waste management. This includes advocating for city-wide composting pick up and anti garbage burning. The other focus is an increased renewable energy standard push statewide. We will also be registering students to vote as democracy work intersects with the environmental movement.”

U Students Like Good Food:  I heard a rumor that this booth is going to have some locally and organically produced snacks!  U Students Like Good Food is a group that advocates for food justice, rad food, and health.

Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering: The BBE program is a specialized undergraduate degree programs related to the sustainable use of renewable resources and the enhancement of the environment.

Sustainable Farming Association/Sustainable Food Production Program: “We will highlight our Sustainable Food Production Program curriculum, a beginning farmer training program that builds successful sustainable farmers as well as community leaders. Our program offers the depth of holistic farm education and provides training in the context of a vibrant, diverse farmer network. It is attractive for individuals with a conventional farming background who want to transition toward sustainability and also individuals who want to farm but have no family background or direct experience in the field. More information is available at”

Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology: At this booth learn about summer research experiences in chemistry research related to creating sustainable nanomaterials.

Clean Energy Resource Teams: They’re all about clean energy–both energy efficiency and renewable energy, and will be highlighting ways that students can work with CERTs to learn more and get involved!

Active Energy Club: “We will highlight the energy projects our club has done, like our energy bike, which is a bike attached to a generator that gives output in the form of light. We will also highlight events we’ve done in the past, like elementary school outreach and Energy Awareness Day in hopes to inspire freshmen to join Active Energy Club.’

Engineers Without Borders: This group works on sustainable water projects in Africa and Central America. The projects are done with local materials and labor, made to last many years, and are environmentally friendly.

The Raptor Center: The Raptor Center (which is a really cool place that I encourage you all to visit frequently throughout your time at the U) is going to be showcasing their ink jet recycling program and are also looking for volunteers with that program.

Live Green Games/Energy Mgmt/Ofc of Sustainability: Get signed up for the Live Green Games and live a greener life!

Students Against Hunger: Students Against Hunger works to educate the university community about the issue of hunger both locally and internationally. They provide volunteering opportunities to get involved and address the issue of hunger, including meal packaging sessions, soup kitchens, and speakers from various anti-hunger organizations like Second Harvest Heartland and the Global Poverty Project. Students Against Hunger sees the issues of hunger and sustainability as intimately intertwined issues, as sustainable development can help alleviate hunger, and meeting people’s basic needs is fundamental to successful sustainable development. As the world’s population continues to grow and climate change becomes an increasing concern for the world’s most vulnerable, the ties between sustainability and hunger will only become more apparent and important.

ReUse: All that we could ever say about the ReUse center here at the University of Minnesota could more easily be explained by visiting their facebook photo albums. So good.

Department of Civil, Enviro, and Geo-Engineering: Tabletop demos on sustainable infrastructure design; environmental issues in energy development; issues of clean water, waste-water, and air.

Fossil Free MN: Get involved with FFMN to get UMN divested from the fossil fuel industry!

TAPPI: Check this booth for volunteer oppurtunities, sustainability within industries, and types of careers in making sustainable products. TAPPI stands for Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry, but they cover bioenergy and bioplastics too.

HourCar: Go to this booth to get rad HourCar swag. HOURCAR is a local nonprofit car-sharing organization. As the official car sharing org at the UofM, they are dedicated with providing students a greener and more affordable alternative to car ownership. The bulk of th fleet is made up of high efficiency hybrids and compact cars.

Sustainability Studies Minor: Check out this booth for information about getting involved with sustainability studies minor on campus, get your picture taken in a cutout, and also get food and beverages from local sustainability-minded organizations! Also there may or may not be a way to win a free bike tune up from Varsity Bikes.

Housing and Residential Life: HRL will be highlighting the opportunity to take sustainable action in your residence halls by joining the Sustainability Advocates, also being highlighted,  the partnered initiative between HRL and FM for the Fall Sustainability Education program.

H20 for Life: Learn about supporting sustainable water use and clean water accessibility.

Solar Vehicle Project: This is a race car. Completely powered by solar energy. Do I need to write more?

Friends of the Boundary Water Wilderness: They will be highlighting their work on issues like non-native invasive species in the Quetico-Superior region, the potential for mining near the BWCA, and the support of wilderness based or “eco-businesses”

GIVE at UMN: Community self-sustainability abroad and at home, as well as an emphasis on how trash can be re-used. Focus will be placed on structures, water filtration programs, etc.

Minnesota Renewable Energy Society: The MRES booth will be displaying solar Photovoltaic and Solar Thermal products. Also learn w how these products are used to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Also learn about the May 16th, 2015 solar boat race and find out how to get involved.

Cornercopia Student Organic Farm: *Debatably* one of the coolest sustainable features at the University of Minnesota, Cornercopia is going to have samples, fun games, and great information on urban and sustainable agriculture.

Innovative Engineers: Learn about wind and solar energy!

Acara: Housed in the Institute on the Environment, the organization hosting Sust Action, Acara will talk about opportunities in IonE’s Acara program in order to engage in learning about and creating impact ventures to address social and environmental challenges through sustainable business-based solutions

Nice Ride MN: Bike sharing! If you didn’t bring a bike to campus, or if yours gets stolen throughout the year, your first stop is going to be Nice Ride. Check them out at Sust Action to get an account up and running!

SforS: Students for Sustainability. This group has a lot going for them and their booth is going to represent that. They are a blanket group, so cover a lot of issues around sustainability. They will be talking about an environmental justice music festival they have coming up, initiatives to get plastic water bottles off of campus, and how you can volunteer to help kids get outdoors!

University Dining Services: The food you will be eating for the next year of your life, if not the next four! They will be talking to you about conscious consuming, purchasing, and also composting on campus.

Learning Abroad Center: Studying abroad is something that all students should at least consider. And the Learning Abroad Center will be here to give you more information!

NetImpact: “The Net Impact Conference is the leading forum for students and professionals who want to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. This year, we’re ready to break boundaries—leaving limits behind, forging unexpected alliances, and exploring creative solutions—to transform the world.” Along with emphasizing the conference, they will provide information regarding opportunities through Net Impact to get involved  and give back to the local community, including field trips to local non-profits, networking events, service opportunities and much more that will take place in the fall.


Resources Regarding #Ferguson


Nathan Michielson

Here at the Sustainability Studies office, although our main issue is sustainability, many of us in the office have been closely following the events of Ferguson and are deeply saddened and frustrated with the acts of violence. There is a heavy intersection of the issues of race relations and sustainability, and we have been pushing ourselves to think about that intersection more critically and how we can use our standing at a world-class institution to further exploit that intersection and create a deeper dialogue on the issue. Although we desire for that conversation to be held, we also understand that the issue of Ferguson is an issue of racial profiling and police brutality. We do not wish to turn this struggle into something for our own personal gain, nor wish to coerce the brilliant efforts being led by activists on the grounds in Ferguson, activists doing remote work (or police brutality work in their own communities), or activists on social media. We as the Sustainability Education Communications team would like to stand in solidarity with all of the aforementioned activists and all those affected by racial profiling and police brutality by bringing this issue into our sustainability and environmental based spaces, where topics of race are far too often ignored. We have compiled a list of resources, to educate ourselves and our peers on the issue in our communities and in Ferguson, and to also help our communities and the people of Ferguson.

To start off, we realize that a lot of this conversation has been happening on social media and not as largely in mainstream media and not everyone has access to that conversation. So here is a quick synopsis of what is happening, and what has led up to this point:

To add to that, here are some ways in which a white person(s), who hasn’t experienced police brutality and isn’t a part of the black community, can start to meaningfully engage in that conversation.

These two links are to ‘Lists’ made in twitter of activists, residents, and reporters who are on the grounds in Ferguson. There is a lot going on in the Twitter world right now, but these are the people who will be giving you moment-by-moment, first-hand accounts of what is happening in Ferguson. Lists are via twitter user @SoulRevision.

-Residents/activists tweeting from Ferguson:

-Journalists tweeting from Ferguson:

This next link is to a nightly livestream of Ferguson. There are many different news outlets and individuals who are livestreaming, so a quick google search could easily pull up more.

There are also a lot of links going around to send donations and help to Ferguson. Just as with anything that is requesting money, make sure to check the credentials before donating. Here are a few links that have been proven valid.

If you want to contribute to local organizing efforts, donate to The Organization for Black Struggle:

If you want to help with the donation of supplies, these folks will be taking testimonies from protesters while also providing basic needs, including food, water, gas masks, and school supplies:

The NLG needs help providing legal back up to the Ferguson protesters:

With this link you can donate to feed the students of Ferguson:

Additionally, not all of us have money to donate, so this is a link to a White House petition that would require police officers to wear cameras on their uniforms:

This link highlights five ways in which white folk can show support against police brutality in their own community:

And for Minneapolis folk, check our Communities United Against Police Brutality, and organization that has been working on the frontline of police brutality issues in Minneapolis:


And if while reading this, you realize that we did not include a resource that you think is beneficial, email, and I will include it in this blog posting. I, as the writer, am not from a community that experiences police brutality as largely as the black community, and additionally have never experienced police brutality myself, so I may have left out some resources that those communities might find useful.

Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old Man


Written: Nathan Michielson

Featured image: (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Blog Image: Facebook via friend of Michael Brown



Sustainability In Scandinavia


This summer, University of Minnesota students with a diverse range of majors, took a study abroad trip of a lifetime to experience world-class sustainability and Scandinavia, first-hand.

One of the greatest challenges facing our world in the 21st century is jointly sustaining the environment and human health and wellbeing. Seeking sustainability means seeking solutions that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A sustainable perspective recognizes the conflicts and trade-offs of balancing economic growth, social equity and environmental integrity. Students who learn to approach complex environmental problems from this perspective today will become the leaders, scientists and engaged citizens of tomorrow.

This course introduces students to sustainability and sustainable development in a Scandinavian and European context, using lectures by Danish faculty and study tours of sustainability sites in Copenhagen, Samso and other locations in Denmark and in Sweden.

For more insight as to what these students embarked on, you can view the course itinerary, the syllabus, as well as student insights on their visit to a trash incinerator.


Wind turbines and cows


Ocean and Marine Biology


Human Foos-ball


Off-shore Wind turbines


Come work with us!

August 13, 2014Nathan MichielsonFeatured, General, Graduate NewsComments Off


The Institute on the Environment and Sustainability Education are looking for a research assistant to supervise undergraduate students workers, and manage administrative processes and project flows of Sustainability Education programs. The job would be part-time (20 hours a week) and runs through August 25, 2014 until January 7, 2015, with the possibility of continuing based on performance.

If you or someone you know would be interested, please apply here.



Sustainability Action 2014

August 6, 2014MadelineEvents, General, Undergraduate NewsComments Off

SA 2013-2

On Friday, August 29 from 9:00 to 5:00, the Institute on the Environment and University Services will co-host the Sustainability Action open house for the new freshman class. Throughout the day, first-year students and other University and community members will tour IonE, chatting with representatives of academic programs, student groups, operations, and external organizations. The booths will be set up throughout IonE in the “Bazaar,” “Plaza,” and “Midway” in honor of the concurrent Minnesota State Fair. Sustainability groups enjoyed a high level of success connecting with potential new contributors, and we’re ready to recreate the experience for the new freshman class.

Students will enter the open house at the Bazaar, where they will be greeted with fresh produce from the Cornercopia student farm before visiting the tables of several sustainability-related student groups.The Bazaar will allow student groups to find energetic new members, and give students an opportunity to find community among other sustainability enthusiasts on campus.

After the Bazaar students will make their way to the Plaza, where Sustainability Studies and other academic programs will be ready with information and advice on incorporating sustainability into any college plan. This is also where students can play games and pick up a free Gopher hat from CFANS.

Students will complete their tour at the Midway, which will feature University Services departments and organizations key to the sustainability movement in the Twin Cities. Students will walk over a giant floor map of the Mississippi River, play more games, and visit with representatives of the ReUse Center, Housing and Residential Life, and the Office of Sustainability to learn how they can live more sustainably during college.

Sustainability Action has been among students’ favorite Welcome Week activities in the past, and we look forward to recreating the experience for the Class of 2018!

The Sustainability Education website is administered by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

The University of Minnesota offers sustainability courses in most of its colleges and campuses around the state. These courses encompass biophysical sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, design, engineering, business, and health. The Sustainability Studies minor is one of several interdisciplinary programs through which such diverse courses come together.