Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI)


The Sustainable Futures Institute was established at Michigan Technological University as an incubator for research, education and outreach efforts related to sustainability. SFI addresses sustainability from multiple disciplines - fitting the discipline to the challenge, rather than expecting the challenge to fit pre-established disciplinary methods.

The Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) is an education and research leader on sustainability initiatives related to water, air, and energy; industrial ecology; environmentally conscious manufacturing; green engineering; public policy; the built environment; sustainable development that includes issues of the developing world; pre-college education for students and teachers; community outreach; and university campus eco-improvements. The SFI has over 100 participating campus members and oversees more than $15 million in research projects addressing all areas of sustainable systems development.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) is to enhance knowledge, develop technologies, and expand capabilities in working towards a sustainable future.

Research and Development Activities

SFI members engage in scholarly research that addresses technical, economic, and social issues related to the sustainable use of the Earth’s limited resources. Association with the SFI allows researchers to forge creative, multi-disciplinary partnerships and access the wide variety of expertise we have assembled in all areas of sustainable systems.

Educational Opportunities

Graduate students interested in gaining expertise in sustainability may obtain a Graduate Certificate in Sustainability, offered by the SFI upon completion of an approved course plan. Michigan Tech students can learn sustainability principles through courses Sustainable Futures I; II, or through hands-on participation in the Green Campus Enterprise. The SFI is also in the process of developing a distance learning program, which will offer a variety of sustainability-related courses online to on-campus and off-campus students. SFI contributes to the advancement of sustainability education in local middle and high-schools through the Center for Science and Environmental; Outreach and the Western Upper Peninsula Center for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education.

The Sustainable Futures Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) project involves graduate students at Michigan Technological University and Southern University at Baton Rouge. This program addresses sustainability challenges through a multidisciplinary, inter-institutional doctoral education program directed at achieving the integration of industrial, environmental, and societal sustainability.

Sustainable Futures Model

Definition of Sustainable Development:

"The design and use of human and industrial systems to ensure that humankind's use of natural resources and cycles do not lead to diminished quality of life due either to losses in future economic opportunities or to adverse impacts on social conditions, human health and the environment."Mihelcic et al., Environ. Sci. and Tech., 37, 2003

This model was taken from Mihelcic, J.R. and D.R. Hokanson. Educational Solutions: For a more Sustainable Future, in F. Agardy and N. Nemerow, eds., Environmental Solutions. Elsevier, in press, August 2005.