EMU selected as regional hub for sustainability education and Great Lakes stewardship
YPSILANTI — Eastern Michigan University has won a $200,000 grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) to help establish a southeastern Michigan hub for place-based education, one of four such “hubs” established by the GLFT across the state of Michigan.
The primary goal of this initiative is to promote a culture of learning between schools and community groups focused on developing students as citizen stewards who understand and can actively promote healthy, sustainable ecological and social systems. For the GLFT, the key to stewardship of the Great Lakes basin is to develop students who understand and can respond to specific ecological needs in their communities.
Southeastern Michigan has almost 5 million people and faces serious ecological, economic and social problems related to urbanization and industrialization. One example is the contamination of the Great Lakes fisheries in the region — the Detroit and Huron rivers, and the River Raisin.
“We are taking a rather unique approach,” said Rebecca Martusewicz an EMU professor of teacher education and director of the project. “We contend that, for real change to take place, a fundamental understanding of the intersections between ecological and social justice need to be established.”
This place-based curriculum development work follows up on an EPA-sponsored project that Martusewicz directed with Susan Santone from Creative Change Educational Solutions (CCES), an Ypsilanti-based non-profit organization. That collaboration helped school districts in three different states build capacity for sustainability education. In addition to CCES, the current project also involves a partnership with the Michigan Coalition of Essential Schools, co-directed by Shug Brandell. Taken together, these grant-sponsored initiatives are helping Martusewicz to establish a Center for Sustainable Communities and EcoJustice Education.
This work is supported by a working coalition of three schools — Ann Arbor Skyline High
School, Hope of Detroit Academy charter school, and Howell High School; three intermediate school
districts—Washtenaw County, Wayne RESA, and Livingston County; and 12 community partners from the Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor area. Professional development with teachers and administrators in these schools began this month.
The center is housed in EMU’s Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities, and is supported by the College of Education and EMU’s Teacher Education Department.
A series of public forums are scheduled in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Howell to highlight student work, and a summer 2008 teacher institute for place-based education is planned. Plans to develop a pilot project to implement curriculum based on green design and ecological economics also is in the works with Livingston County schools.
Other regional hubs funded by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust are located in the UP and in Muskegon. A fourth hub at Michigan State University will be funded in May.
Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.
Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.