Elementary Students Visit Taubman College to Experience Campus and Discuss Ways to Improve their Detroit Communities
The Urban and Regional Planning program at Taubman College hosted an outreach event for thirty-five fourth grade students who are part of the Future Leaders of the World (F.L.O.W.) Project in Detroit.
The visit took place on Thursday, March 14, 2013 and was highlighted by an exercise called "Photovoice." As part of the Photovoice exercise, students took photographs of their community and brought them to campus to share and discuss with urban and regional planning students. The exercise is designed to help students represent their landmarks, areas, and community through photographs and to find ways to improve their surroundings.
"It was eye-opening for the children," said Joy Croel, Executive Director of the F.L.O.W. Project. "To see the campus, to learn about the careers, and to share and talk about photos from their community was an empowering experience."
Under the direction of Assistant Professor Harley Etienne, elementary school students teamed up with students from the Urban and Regional Planning program to identify ways to improve liked and disliked areas in their residential communities.
"The feedback from Joy was overwhelmingly positive," added Etienne about the visit. "The students were excited to come to campus, meet actual Michigan students and faculty, and learn about the design professions. As a result, I think many of them can see themselves as University of Michigan students in the future."
Etienne teaches in the areas of urban community development, inner-city revitalization, neighborhood change, urban poverty, and qualitative research issues in planning at Taubman College. Etienne's research focuses primarily on the intersection of social institutions and their relationship to processes of urban neighborhood change and he is interested in the role that colleges and universities play in contributing to neighborhood-level change and regional economic development.
In addition to participating in Photovoice, F.L.O.W. Project students received tours of central campus and Taubman College facilities. Students Aja Bonner and Erin Royals, along with Assistant Professor of Architecture Sean Vance, gave advice on preparing for college and the importance of Urban Planning and Architecture on communities.
Michael Nevitt, an undergraduate student from LS&A who worked with the students concluded, "The activity made me realize that children are an important part of their community and that their perspective should not over-looked in the planning process. Bringing these students to the University of Michigan to discuss their hometown provided more insight into the life and structure of their community than an observational visit to the area ever could have."