The Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project (SMEP) serves as a catalyst and convener of interdisciplinary dialogue and research around existing and emerging sustainability topics. SMEP has invested considerable resources in exploring the implications of sustainability particularly for the future of Michigan. It has developed in-depth conceptualizations about what comprises engaged sustainability scholarship and how that would translate into research, teaching and outreach. It has been able to clearly differentiate the types of research and knowledge where science alone can provide potential solutions (e.g. tame problems) and where the identification of potential solutions must be collaborative with stakeholders and other social actors (wicked problems). SMEP is now widening the recognition of the significance of these differences for the role of science in addressing societal concerns.