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2019 Elements of Sustainability

Sustainable scenery

Elements of Sustainability Series: Learning What’s Possible

To continue the conversation, Dow and the Erb Institute of University of Michigan partnered again to host the second annual Elements of Sustainability Series.

Embedded sustainability efforts as part of a company’s strategy are imperative for business success, with the value at stake from sustainability concerns as high as 70 percent of earnings.1 This series takes sustainability fundamentals a step further to deliver business insights to help you integrate sustainability into your day-to-day decisions at work and at home.

The sustainability challenges facing society today are so complex, that an organization, institution or individual cannot tackle them single-handedly. In order to truly advance sustainability, we must all come together to leverage our strengths. The Elements of Sustainability Series aims to empower individuals with knowledge by catalyzing the power of collaboration with universities, organizations and the brightest minds dedicated to creating a more sustainable planet.

Dow has brought together renowned academics representing universities from across the world to offer online lectures covering topics shaping the sustainability landscape, including supply chain, risk management, and circular economy. The online event is free and open to anyone with an interest in learning how to make a sustainable impact in their daily lives and business. Scroll down for the links to these exciting lectures.

All lectures, including 2018’s Elements of Sustainability Lectures, are now available through Earth Day 2020.

Disclaimer: These presentations are provided in good faith for informational purposes only. These presentations represent the views, opinions and recommendations of the presenters. Dow and the presentation sponsors assume no obligation or liability.

Our Lectures:

Dr. Ravi Anupindi

Responsible Operations and Supply Chain Management
April 22

Dr. Ravi Anupindi
University of Michigan

Firms face increasing pressure from activists, investors, and customers to reduce the environmental impacts of their operations and supply chains as well as uphold basic human rights and labor standards for the people who produce the materials / components / products. At the same time, using a sustainability lens to study its operations and supply chain, a firm can identify new opportunities for improving efficiency and innovation. Further, sustainability (environmental / social) as an artifact has to be combined with a discussion of responsibility; that is, whose responsibility is it to ensure sustainability in the extended value chain that includes the end consumers? This session examines how to design and manage environmentally and socially responsible operations and supply chains.

About the Speaker
Ravi Anupindi is Colonel William G. and Ann C. Svetlich Professor of Operations Research and Management at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. He is also the founding Faculty Director of the Center for Value Chain Innovation. His main research areas include technology and business innovation; supply chain management; strategic sourcing; supply chain risk management; lean operations; supply chain sustainability; value chains for economic development and health care delivery in low and middle income countries. He currently teaches elective courses in Global Supply Chain Management; Innovations in Global Healthcare Delivery; and Sustainable Operations and Supply Chain Management. He has published widely and is the co-author of a textbook, Managing Business Process Flows (3rd Edition), Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2011. He serves on the board the William Davidson Institute and as a technical advisor to Vital Ocean.



Dr. Keith Solomon

Chemicals in Our Environment: Perceptions, Hazards, And Risks
April 23

Dr. Keith Solomon
University of Guelph

Planet earth and all the organisms on the globe are collections of chemicals. We are ourselves made from chemicals as are the food we eat, the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the mobile phones we use, and a big etc. The millions of chemicals known to science are composed of about 100+ elements, all of which are listed in the Periodic Table and, when combined with other elements confer different properties to the resulting chemicals that they are constituents of. The term “chemical” is well understood in the sciences but often conjures up concern in the eyes of the public, especially when reading a label on a medication or even a common household product. Some believe that chemicals are inherently evil, and this can result in fear of chemicals or chemophobia. While it is true that we need to be very careful with some chemicals, most chemicals are relatively innocuous, and many are essential to maintaining health and quality of life. This is true for natural chemicals produced by organisms in our environment, chemicals we produce in our own bodies, and those synthetically produced by the chemical industry. This lecture will focus on the properties that make chemicals potentially hazardous, why they are hazardous, and how we can assess risks from natural and synthetic chemicals.

About the Speaker
Professor Keith Solomon is Professor Emeritus and Associate Graduate Faculty in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph. He is also a member of the Centre for Toxicology.
Professor Solomon has taught in areas of toxicology and pesticides at the University of Guelph and advises graduate students. His research areas are the fate and effects of pesticides and other substances in the environment, exposure of humans to pesticides and industrial chemicals, and risk assessment. He has served on several advisory committees on matters related to environmental toxicology and pesticides in Canada, the USA, and internationally. He has more than 50 years of experience in research and teaching in pesticide science and toxicology and has contributed to more than 460 scientific publications and reports in the fields of pesticides, environmental toxicology, and risk assessment. He has advised or co-advised eight Post-Doctoral Fellows, 39 Masters Students, and 31 Doctoral Students and has given many short courses on pesticides and ecotoxicological risk assessment in Canada, Latin America, and around the world.

(Sponsored by Dow)


Dr. Merian Chertow

Circular Economy and Industrial Ecology: Closing the Loops Along the Value Chain
April 24

Dr. Marian Chertow
Yale University

Prof. Marian Chertow (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Yale School of Management) examines the importance of cycling resources in the global economy. She will use the value chain as an organizing framework to provide insights on the interdependencies that surround a circular economy from production and operations to sales and marketing as well as after-market end of use. During her talk, Prof. Chertow will discuss many concepts of a “circular economy” and the related science of “industrial ecology” – both of which focus on resource consumption over the lifecycle of goods and services. Specific topics such as waste reuse and product life extension are drawn from various industries emphasizing ways companies can engage resource availability collaboratively.

About the Speaker
Marian Chertow is a professor of industrial environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She also has faculty appointments at the Yale School of Management and the National University of Singapore. Her research and teaching focus on industrial ecology, business/environment issues, waste management, circular economy, and urban industrial systems. She is most interested in networks of companies that share physical resources across their boundaries – what has been termed “industrial symbiosis.” Professor Chertow holds degrees from Barnard College, the Yale School of Management, and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Prior to Yale, Professor Chertow spent ten years in environmental business and state and local government including service as president of a large state bonding authority charged with developing a billion dollar waste infrastructure system. Recently, Professor Chertow was U.S. representative to the launch of the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency. She served for two years as the elected President of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, her scholarly society. Professor Chertow currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Research in Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), the Board of Directors for TerraCycle U.S. Inc. and the External Advisory Board of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand.

(Sponsored by P&G)


Dr. Liane Lesfrud

Communicating Risks to Support Sustainability Discussions in a Post-Truth Era
April 25

Dr. Lianne Lefsrud
University of Alberta

Effective risk communication is fundamental to addressing sustainability challenges such as developing climate change policies, enhancing workplace safety, and promoting public health. This lecture will begin with an overview of risk definitions, how risk is assessed, and how risk acceptability is evaluated. Then, we will outline when and with whom you would communicate risks and the associated barriers to risk communication. We will conclude with overarching principles for effective communication: determining key audiences, defining the purpose of a risk communiqué, using the most effective method of communicating (visual, verbal, statistics, combinations), and using the most credible messenger. Ample examples will be given throughout.

About the Speaker
Dr. Lianne Lefsrud is an Assistant Professor, Engineering Safety and Risk Management at the University of Alberta. Most recently, Lianne was a Dow Sustainability Postdoctoral Fellow with the Erb Institute of Global Sustainable Enterprise, University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Organization, interdisciplinary M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and Sociology, and B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from the University of Alberta. She also spent several years with APEGA regulating engineering/geoscience and worked for a railroad, in oil and gas, construction, and environmental consultancies. Her research examines methods of hazard identification and risk management, evaluation and communication, and drivers of technology adoption in geothermal, mining, pipelining, construction, and railroading, among other industries. She has authored over 60 articles, chapters, reports, and practice standards. For more, visit her website liannelefsrud.com.

 Follow Dr. Lianne Lefsrud on Twitter.

(Sponsored by Dow)


Dr. Tom Lyon

Sustainability Certifications and Public Policy
April 26

Dr. Tom Lyon
University of Michigan

Global environmental issues such as biodiversity and climate change are increasingly important to citizens around the world, but are extremely difficult for governments to address with standard policy tools. The globalization of trade and the need for international coordination on global issues make harmonized world standards for environmental problems unlikely in the foreseeable future. Global trade law also makes it difficult for governments to regulate attributes of production processes beyond their borders. In response, many groups (both industry trade associations and environmental advocacy groups) have put increasing effort into international market mechanisms involving sustainability certification and ecolabeling. Some of these ecolabels have achieved significant market penetration, with Marine Stewardship Council certification covering over 10% of wild caught fish and Forest Stewardship Council certification covering about 16% of timber by volume. Yet despite these accomplishments, certification schemes face a variety of challenges. Competition between activist-driven and industry-driven certifications threatens to undermine their environmental benefits. Consumer confusion about the meaning of different certifications can also undermine environmental benefits. Finally, driving diffusion of certification throughout an entire industry remains difficult absent government pressure on laggards.

About the Speaker
Thomas P. Lyon holds the Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce at the University of Michigan, with appointments in both the Ross School of Business and the School of Environment and Sustainability. He is President of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), and has served as Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise and as Associate Director for Policy and Social Science at the U.M. Energy Institute. Professor Lyon is a leader in using economic analysis to understand corporate environmental strategy, especially in the energy industry, and how it is shaped by emerging government regulations, non-governmental organizations, and consumer demands. His book Corporate Environmentalism and Public Policy, published by Cambridge University Press, was the first rigorous economic analysis of this increasingly important topic. His current research focuses on environmental information disclosure, private politics, regulatory compliance, and eco-certification.

(Sponsored by BAGS)


Learn More About the Organizer and Moderator

Erica Ocampo

Erica Ocampo
The Dow Chemical Company, Sustainability Strategy Manager, Global EH&S and Sustainability

Erica Ocampo serves as the sustainability strategy manager for Dow’s Consumer Solutions business. In this role, she focuses on strategy development across the business aligned to the Dow 2025 Sustainability Goals and manages key external value chain partnerships. She also leads The Dow Sustainability Academy, an employee development program that provides participants with the tools needed to bring sustainability business insights into their day-to-day jobs as well as hands-on experience with a 2025 Sustainability Goals-related project.

Ocampo received a master’s degree in sustainability and environmental management from Harvard University Extension School and a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Ocampo is passionate about sustainability and believes that through science and collaboration, sustainability can be achieved.

 Follow Erica Ocampo on Twitter


ERB Institute Business for Sustainability

About the Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise

The Erb Institute is the University of Michigan’s business-sustainability partnership between the Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability. We work with business leaders to help them improve company competitiveness through enhanced social, environmental and economic performance. Our degree programs prepare students to be future business leaders for sustainability, while our research and executive education prepare current business leaders for what’s next in sustainability.

1Profits with purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line

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