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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.

What is MECC?

The MECC initiative integrates multidisciplinary and civically oriented engaged learning simultaneously. It taps into existing courses and brings them together to work on related client-based projects rather than creating new courses. 

Taking that approach, the existing courses continue to serve the needs of the individual programs while also providing a vehicle for meta-disciplinary learning. 

MECC also coordinates and promotes collaborations of community partners with the goal of enhancing UM’s public service and outreach mission. The initiative is innovative and unique in its design.

MECC has worked within communities all around the state of Michigan. From exploring ways the Traverse City region could make progress on the workforce housing issue to partnering with local schools, stores, and neighborhood groups to improve living conditions around Metro Detroit to address the increasing need for refugee support, our projects are varied and speak to the ever-evolving community needs. Click here to learn more about past projects based on region.

Are you a community member looking for assistance with a complex project?  Are you a faculty member who is interested in collaborating with faculty and students from other disciplines on complex community projects? Contact us to learn more!

Current Projects

Summer Sailings with the Detroit River Story Lab

The Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit River as part of an education sail hosted by the Detroit River Story Lab | Photo courtesy of David Porter
The Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit River as part of an education sail hosted by the Detroit River Story Lab | Photo courtesy of David Porter

Envisioned and created by University of Michigan English professor David Porter, the Detroit River Story Lab (DRSL) finally kicked off the ground and began work last year. This project’s main goal is to tell all sides of the story of the Detroit River by working with local organizations along the riverfront. By partnering with a wide variety of stakeholders, the DRSL works to highlight the history of the river, from its importance as the final passage to freedom as part of the Underground Railroad, to its cultural and environmental significance to Detroit communities today.

Local Detroit teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit Riverfront | Photo courtesy of David Porter
Local Detroit teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner sailing along the Detroit Riverfront | Photo courtesy of David Porter

Thanks to partnerships with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Dossin Museum, and other groups, the DRSL was able to host a series of educational sails for local teens aboard the Inland Seas schooner this past month. A variety of speakers joined the sailings as part of the educational programming including historian, activist, and founder of the Detroit River Project, Kimberly Simmons. MECC supports the work of the DRSL through our own project focused on the Detroit River (read more about this and all our current projects). MECC and the DRSL are hopeful that these summer sailings are just the beginning of tall ships educational programing along the Detroit River corridor.

The Detroit River Story Lab is grant-funded and a part of U-M’s Poverty Solutions. Read more about their work.

MECC Contacts

Paul Fontaine, Program Manager/Lecturer
paulfont@umich.edu
(248) 571-1926

Melinda Verhage, Project Manager
mverhage@umich.edu
(858) 735-3158

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