Prospective Scholars

Click here to download the 2017-18 Scholars Announcement

Click here to download the 2017-18 Scholars Applicant Rubric

Description of the Scholars Program

The Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project (SMEP) was established by an endowment from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2003 “to serve as a catalyst and convener of interdisciplinary dialogue and research around existing and emerging sustainability topics.” In 2016 SMEP began a new effort called the SMEP Scholars Program. The Scholars Program seeks to develop the next generation of sustainability scholars at MSU through an intentional, interdisciplinary community of practice including the Scholars and SMEP Executive Committee faculty members.

As members of this community of practice, Scholars will receive the following:

  • A one-time allocation of $25,000, disbursed to the student’s major professor, used to support the student’s Ph.D. studies (e.g., tuition, research, or travel costs)
  • Professional development in sustainability studies, including time and space to develop sustainability concepts, research, and interventions; networking with peers and leaders in the field; and exposure to community engaged scholarship in Michigan
  • Access to discretionary funds for group trainings, trips, or other efforts that can be designed by the Scholars

To receive these benefits, every year of their Ph.D. program Scholars are expected to:

  • Participate in and help design the annual SMEP Study Tour in mid-August
  • Participate in and help design the monthly SMEP seminar series
  • Participate in and help design other SMEP communications and events as they arise

In addition, the faculty member who nominates the student for this program is also expected to participate in the above activities.

Selection Criteria

We are seeking unique, highly competent, and creative individuals looking to lead the next generation of sustainability scholarship. We seek people who look for opportunities, who conduct their work inclusively towards others, and who regularly cross disciplinary boundaries. SMEP Scholars embody the tenacity, humility, and creativity characteristic of the Spartan spirit, and they proactively apply these qualities to the definition and practice of sustainability scholarship.

A subset of the SMEP Executive Committee will serve as the Selection Committee for this Program. They will consider the following criteria in evaluating the student, ranked in order of priority. Evidence for these criteria should come from the student’s statement and the faculty member’s letter of nomination.

  1. Incoming Ph.D. student in Fall 2017
  2. Academic or scholarly excellence
  3. Community engagement excellence
  4. Scholarship and/or engagement is focused in Michigan
  5. Faculty sponsor shows commitment to engage in SMEP activities

Brief biographies of previous cohorts of Scholars can be found on the SMEP People page.

How to Nominate a Student

Students may not apply to the Program directly. They must be nominated by a faculty member of the SMEP Executive Committee. SMEP Executive Committee Members are allowed and encouraged to nominate students whose major professors are not members of the SMEP Executive Committee; non-SMEP faculty should contact an Executive Committee member to exercise this option. (For a list of members, see the SMEP People page). However, each Executive Committee member may only nominate one student per year. SMEP encourages nominations for students with underrepresented backgrounds, including but not limited to considerations of ethnicity, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, training, disabilities, and parental status.

The faculty sponsor must submit a nomination packet that includes the following items in order in a single PDF:

  • A cover sheet including:Title: “SMEP Scholars Nomination for 2017-18”
    • The student’s full name
    • The student’s Ph.D. program title (and other graduate programs, if applicable)
    • The name of the student’s faculty advisor
    • A letter of nomination from the student’s faculty advisor (maximum 2 pages, single spaced, 1-inch margins). The letter should indicate how the student will be supported (grants, fellowships, assistantships) throughout their studies at MSU. Any SMEP support received should be matched by other sources of funding. The letter should also indicate the student’s scholarly promise, community engagement potential, and the faculty advisor’s intention to be involved with SMEP.
    • A statement of scholarly interests from the student (maximum 2 pages, single spaced, 1-inch margins). This should also include reference to the student’s previous research experience, degrees, and community engagement.

Email the PDF as an email attachment to Julie Eckinger by January 15, 2017.

Successful nominees will be announced by February 15, 2017.


If you are otherwise interested in getting involved with SMEP, please contact Paul Thompson at

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