BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Ben Kobren is hoping the skills he learned in Briarcliff Manor will help him make a difference on a global scale.
The 29-year-old Briarcliff Manor native recently joined 39 other master’s and professional-degree students at the University of Michigan in the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program. The $10 million program, which launched last spring, supports each of the 40 students in their studies for one year to become “part of a collaborative community of sustainability scholars at U-M,” according to a statement.
“It’s a privilege that I was selected, and I’m honored to be a part of this group, and I hope I can contribute something meaningful to the program," Kobren said Friday. "To have an opportunity to work with an unbelievably talented group is an amazing opportunity, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Kobren, who is studying law, will receive a $20,000 stipend. Each fellow “will participate in monthly seminars and workshops, team projects, co-curricular activities and other exercises designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration among scholars,” according to the statement. Kobren said he’s hoping skills he learned from his parents will make a big difference.
“I was fortunate to grow up [in Briarcliff Manor] and have both of my parents instill in me a value of working as hard as I possibly can and to do my best to leave a positive imprint in whatever I was engaged in,” Kobren said. He said he was excited for the work he and the other fellows will do over the next year.
“The program itself is built on the notion that you have a fantastic university that has incredible resources and this provides an avenue to bring together a diverse group that will work toward solving the country’s and planet's biggest sustainability challenges," Kobren said. "And the thought is, if you can bring together all of those components, you might be able to create some really interesting solutions to make the world a little bit better.”
U-M faculty members also have high hopes for the group.
“We went through a very rigorous nomination and review process,” Andrew Horning, acting director of U-M's Graham Sustainability Institute, which administers the program, said in a statement. “These fellows represent some of the highest-caliber interdisciplinary thinkers at the university — and, undoubtedly, some of the future sustainability leaders for our planet.”