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Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC)

Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC) is an initiative exploring the benefits of multi-disciplinary teams at UM working on stakeholder-based community engagement efforts. During the semester-long process, students from different disciplines learn from each other as they collaborate on complex projects.

Winter 2022 Project Focus: Refugee Ready Region (RRR)

This winter semester marks the launch of MECC’s RRR project, bringing students and faculty together in collaboration with our stakeholders from the City of Inkster, Samaritas, and Wayne County Economic Development (WCED). We have a record number of units working together on this project from all across campus, including:

  • Sharon Haar’s Architecture and Urban Design Studio
  • Chris Mueller’s Business Capstone MAP
  • Jade Marks’ ALA 270
  • Nick Tobier’s Art and Design Studio
  • The Medical School’s University of Michigan Asylum Collaborative (UMAC)  

People standing in a warehouse
MECC team members on a tour of Zaman International during a site visit to Inkster on Feb. 1. Photo courtesy of Paul Fontaine.

Nick Tobier and his STAMPS students have been working with residents of Freedom Village I located in Hamtramck, MI to build meaningful relationships built upon mutual trust and respect. These design students are working to create art installations for these newly settled communities informed by the residents' own ideas and visions of home.

Freedom Village I residents and Tobier’s Design Students
Freedom Village I residents and Tobier’s Design Students meet for a meal and to build “shadow boxes” that represent their ideal place. Photo courtesy of Nick Tobier.

Shadow Boxes
Some of the shadow boxes created by Freedom Village residents. Photo courtesy of Nick Tobier.

Fall 2021 Semester Highlights

Detroit River Story Lab

MECC is a proud partner and supporter of the Detroit River Story Lab, founded in Fall 2020 by U-M English and comparative literature professor, David Porter. A part of U-M’s Poverty Solutions, the Story Lab is dedicated to working with local organizations and courses on campus to tell the nuanced and rich stories of this international waterway to audiences on both sides of the river. Check out the video below and read more about the work they have done this year at https://news.umich.edu/what-lies-beneath-detroit-river-narratives-emerge-through-schooner-trips-boat-building/

STEAM in a Box

Partnering with the Michigan Science Center located in Downtown Detroit, students enrolled in Nick Tobier’s ARTDES 314 “Change by Design” course created the first prototypes for “Discovery Boxes” that will be used by the museum as an innovative and adaptive tool to connect underserved audiences with affordable STEAM learning resources and experiences, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has limited hands-on learning opportunities.

Tobier class portrait

Professor Nick Tobier and his ARTDES 314 students with some of their “boxes” including a wearable vest that teaches students about electrical wire circuitry as well as sewing skills.

MECC Contacts

Paul Fontaine, Program Manager/Lecturer
(248) 571-1926

Melinda Verhage, Project Manager
(858) 735-3158

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning