University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Sustainability Education

Undergrad Leaders

What’s your passion?  What’s your sustainability vision?  How can we create a more sustainable future with Place?

The Undergraduate Sustainability Leaders’ Program is a leadership accelerator within the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. The Leaders Program develops emerging undergraduate leaders into real world change makers committed to solutions-focused leadership.  Our goal is to grow a cohort of students who are committed to becoming the next generation of community, regional, and world leaders.  We encourage holistic thinking and respect the diverse skills and perspectives each leader brings to the table.

  • How can we use lenses of equity, reciprocity, justice, and diversity to define and think about sustainability?
  • How can we bring together science, creativity, art, healing practices, and diverse ways of knowing in communication to make sustainability more interdisciplinary and inclusive?
  • How do these versions of sustainability fit into the big picture governance and policy frameworks?

2015-2016 Focus themes: Whose identities are expressed in place?  Recognizing that many people and communities have been experiencing dramatic social, political, economic, and environmental climate changes for a long time now, how can we begin a value shift that attempts to experience change as healing (rather than as relationships that have a root in trauma or exploitation)?

We hope to create connections to reimagine our relationships to the world and act towards transformative action and expression under the lenses of:

Place = the context for change and growing identities.

  • We will explore how to listen to the many identities of place, community and self to expand our boundaries, question our worldview and unearth deeper connections to place.

Relationships = the web of interconnections to foster community and action.

  • We seek to nurture a cultural fabric for inclusive, equitable, and ecological relationships that are grounded in reciprocity, citizenship, and stewardship, while deconstructing relationships of abuse and exploitation.

Expression = the medium to renew our world and leverage change.

  • We honor and weave together different ways of knowing and communicating to empower ourselves to be creative agents of change and inspire a value shift through community building activities and expression.

 Timeline and Flow:

We will be reviewing applications and will select from your submissions.  We will try to match your needs and interests with a self emergent process that allows your voice to be represented within the process (rather than having everything pre-defined on what we think would work).  There are some upcoming opportunities that we will try and match people with in the short-term.

We encourage all applicants to attend at least one day of Don’t You Feel It Too? Activism Week Oct 12-16, 5:30-7:00 PM Monday through Friday. More information is available here. Monday, October 12, aligns with Indigenous People’s Day.

However, the first big step on the 2015-2016 Leaders Journey will be on Saturday, November 14, 2015, in which we will do an all day retreat.  We will provide more information upon acceptance.  From this event, we will have a better idea of who you are, time commitments, and how that fits with who we are and how we can move forward together.

 Cohort Learning and Action:

  • Kick Off Workshop (ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED): Saturday, November 14, 2015
    • (This is where we’ll start defining the journey more concretely together)
  • Interview UMN alumni who has worked on transformative action of place, and develop change agent alumni piece published on Sustainability Education website (see Tracy Sides example by Leader Moriah Maternoski).
  • Once-a-month Leaders meeting/field trip to develop sense of place, relationships, and expression.

Amp up your sustainability know-how by participating in:

  • Frontiers in the Environment Lecture Series (Wednesday @ 12)
  • Sustainability Spring Film Series Events
  • Sustainability Symposium (Leaders present creative work: Spring 2016)
  • Participate in Earth Day April 22
  • Register for Spring Climate Chaos class associated with Northern Spark Art Festival
  • Student Engagement Leadership Forum (SELF) Sustain Retreat (April 2016)


The application period for the 2015-2016 Leaders Program has closed.  Watch our blog for updates from our 2015-2016 leaders!

Students interested in applying for the 2016-2017 IonE Leaders program should check back to this page in September 2016.

Applicant FAQ

Meet IonE Leaders Program Alumni

I feel that my experience in the IonE Leaders program got me more into the real world of people actually doing things rather than academia


Questions? Contact us at


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.