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UC Berkeley to Focus on Sustainable Products, Solutions

With an initial $2 million gift announced today (Tuesday, Oct. 30), the University of California, Berkeley, will move forward to establish a new program aimed at providing students educational and research opportunities in the area of sustainable products and solutions.

Based at the Center for Responsible Business at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, the Sustainable Products and Solutions (SPS) Program is being established in partnership with UC Berkeley's College of Chemistry. It is being financed initially with $2 million in seed money from the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation. The foundation intends to provide a total of $10 million over the next five years and to help the program secure additional foundation and corporate sponsors.

The program will focus on sustainability issues involving society, science, engineering, the environment and finance. A request for proposals will be issued later this fall seeking research and education ideas, primarily from master's degree-level and doctoral students at UC Berkeley.

The program's interdisciplinary nature will enable students to take into account all aspects of a product's life, including those related to finance, environment, production and its interactions with people.

A steering committee comprised of faculty from disciplines across campus will make funding decisions. Funding for the first round of research and education projects will likely be announced in early 2008.

Projects funded within this program could be wide-ranging. They could include expanding clean drinking water supplies and exploring how to measure a product supply chain's environmental footprint. Learning opportunities could also involve many undergraduate students who assist with graduate student projects.

"The SPS Program will offer unique opportunities to support education and research related to all aspects of sustainability, and has the potential to help shape policies and benefit society for years to come. We are truly delighted to be a part of this very important initiative," said Douglas Clark, a UC Berkeley professor of chemical engineering and faculty co-chair of the program steering committee.

"This program gives us the opportunity to offer seminars, student competitions, research, internships, field projects and fellowships that will help graduate students bridge research, theory and practice in sustainability," said Kellie McElhaney, executive director of the Center for Responsible Business and program director for the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program.

Dow's Tony Kingsbury, an executive-in-residence at the Center for Responsible Business, said funding the education and research program in sustainability is a first for his company's foundation. Kingsbury said that one of his immediate goals will be to help generate additional funding from other foundation and corporate partners.

As the company's philanthropic arm, the Dow Chemical Co. Foundation contributes more than $18 million annually to charitable and educational institutions in Dow communities on behalf of Dow and its employees around the world.

The Dow Chemical Co. will not be involved in the SPS Program decision-making. All research to be funded by the new program will be the property of UC Berkeley.

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