The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise is an interdisciplinary institute at the University of Michigan that fosters professional education, public outreach and scientific scholarship supportive of the transition to sustainability. The core educational activity of the Institute is the Master of Business Administration (MBA) / Master of Science (MS) Program, wherein students earn a MBA from the Ross School of Business and an MS from University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE). The Erb Institute also delivers educational experiences for undergraduates, PhD students and executives. The Institute draws on faculty expertise throughout the University and has three core professors -- Thomas P. Lyon, Thomas N. Gladwin, and Andrew Hoffman, who have joint appointments in Ross and SNRE.
The Erb Institute was created in 1996 via donations from Frederick A. Erb (BBA ’47) and his wife, Barbara, and is a partnership between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan.
The Institute attempts to foster professional education, public outreach and scientific scholarship supportive of the transition to sustainability.
• Focuses on advancing understanding of the complex dynamics of coupled human and natural systems in relation to economic activity;
• Promotes an interdisciplinary approach integrating the natural, social and engineering sciences;
• Links knowledge generation with social action by connecting scholars with practitioners in the search for creative strategies and approaches to transformation; and
• Relies on a strong collaborative network, both internally and externally, to accomplish its objectives.
Mission and vision
The schools stated mission is to be a source of knowledge and leadership for the achievement of environmentally, economically and socially sustainable development and enterprise. To this end, the Institute works to foster professional education, public outreach and scientific scholarship supportive of the transition to sustainability.
When the Erb Institute was founded in 1996, the University of Michigan was home to a few, small-scale activities related to sustainable enterprise. Since then, the Institute has significantly expanded and aligned research, education and outreach efforts. The center's goals include continually expanding and integrating sustainable enterprise work within the larger University, with the ultimate goal of facilitating societal transformation through the development of leadership within the domain of sustainability.
The primary stakeholders of the institute include hundreds of faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and organizational partners.
Frederick A. and Barbara M. Erb founded the Institute in 1996 with an endowment gift of $5 million. To date, they have made cumulative gifts totaling $20 million in support of the Institute.
Both Fred and Barbara were born and raised in the Detroit area. After graduating in 1941 from the Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Fred Erb attended Cornell University to study engineering. Having decided that he wanted to be an entrepreneur and "control his own destiny," Fred switched from engineering to business and achieved his BBA degree with honors in August 1947.
Fred undertook his first entrepreneurial opportunity through the acquisition of his uncle's lumber and coal business in Royal Oak, Michigan. At that time, the Erb Lumber Company had one store, seven employees, and revenues approaching $200,000, one third of which were generated from the sale of coal. Fred developed and expanded the enterprise and when he sold it to Carolina Builders in 1993 the Erb Lumber Company had 45 locations and approximately $300 million in sales. Fred continues to be active in real estate development and management, and in many other businesses including Edgemere Enterprises in Birmingham. His wife Barbara was active in numerous community service organizations and served on the boards of The Music Hall of Detroit and the Michigan Art Train. She was a member of the Women’s Committee of the Cranbrook Academy of Art and the local chapter of the National Farm and Garden Club.
Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise 
Stephen M. Ross School of Business 
University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment