Sustainability-Related Research at NMU


There are sustainably-focused research initiatives occurring across many of NMU's academic departments. These projects are oftentimes conducted by our talented faculty members, graduate students, and undergrads. 

CoPe: Planning for Sustainable Coastal Development on Superior's South Shore

For the month of August the International Lake Superior Board of Control (ILSBC) reported that Lake Superior’s water level is 41cm above the hundred year average. The combination of heavy rain events, high water levels, strong winds and big waves on Lake Superior make the risk of shoreline erosion and coastal damages imminent. Marquette County is important to the south shore of Lake Superior because it is the largest county in Michigan and one of the largest counties east of the Mississippi River, encompassing 1,873 square miles of land area. Marquette County is also one of the most populated areas in the Upper Peninsula and serves as the cultural and economic capital for northern Michigan.

Facing a dynamic and rapidly changing climate requires collaboration and capital – social, political, physical and financial capital. CoPe is a three-part workshop series to move scientists and stakeholders from historical conditions to a vision for the future with actionable recommendations for sustainable coastal development in an era of dynamic climate change. The conference process will offer decision-makers access to coastal research that addresses the interconnected issues of rural economic development, climate science, environmental history, and coastal ecology.

Learn More in Our Digital Magazine Below

Step 1: 

Explore the history of development along our shoreline
Workshop 1: Mapping the Coastal Community System - Fall 2019

Step 2: 

Understand present climate conditions affecting our shoreline
Workshop 2: Sustainable Coast Future Search - Winter 2020

Step 3: 

Facilitate a process to create a shared vision for the future
Workshop 3: Envisioning Scenarios for Sustainable Coastal Development - Spring 2020

Sustainability and Native American Studies

In this video, NMU Professor April Lindala talks about the core conversation of sustainability in Native American Studies. Her current project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is working with colleagues around the United States and Puerto Rico asking questions about how ancestral knowledge can help us move toward a more sustainable relationship with the manufacturing and disposal of technological devices. 


Faculty and Students in front of Granite Island's Lighthouse

Island Experience Inspires Writers

English graduate students and faculty members from Northern Michigan University delved into environmental fiction and ecocriticism during a stay on Granite Island, surrounded by the grandeur and moods of Lake Superior. NMU is the only public university in the nation to offer a course held in a lighthouse. The immersive experience included outdoor exploration, group discussions, community building and deep writing time.

Student Sustainability Writing

Students in an EN211 class were charged with the task to write research essays connecting themes of sustainability to their majors or a personal interest. They then collaborated to bring all their writing to one place:

Sustainability and Biology Research

In this video, NMU Biology Professor Kurt Galbreath talks about how his research and his work with NMU's Northern Museum of Zoology connects to sustainability.  

Galbreath studies the diversity and historical biogeography of northern animals, with a particular focus on parasites and their mammalian hosts across Asia and North America. His research combines museum-based field collections with laboratory-based molecular studies to study the consequences of past environmental disruptions (e.g., climatic cooling and warming) for population demography, diversification, and community assembly.