Michigan State motivates students to dream big in Detroit: BTN LiveBIG

You may have heard that the city of Detroit is on the rise again after a series of challenges. But the renaissance of this once great metropolis won't be completed by the addition of sports stadiums or inspirational car commercials.

August 21, 2016

By: Matthew Wood, BTN.com Live Big Staff, Big Ten Network

You may have heard that the city of Detroit is on the rise again after a series of financial and social challenges. But the renaissance of this once great metropolis won’t be completed by the addition of sports stadiums or inspirational car commercials. It will be done by locals who care about its future and young people who want to be the next generation of civic leaders.

That’s the idea behind Michigan State University’s DETxMSU program, a series of innovative projects where nearly 60 students spent the summer immersing themselves in the city’s political, business, and cultural concerns in order to learn how to redefine Detroit.

“[The program is] intended to go beyond the practice of what they were learning in college, to learning about civic engagement, about culture and the history of Detroit,” says MSU Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs June Youatt, who spearheaded the program. “The idea was to have a real immersion experience, where they lived, played and worked alongside people of Detroit.”

Pat Crawford, the Associate Director for MSU’s School of Planning, Design & Construction, took the reins of making the program a reality. She said it differed from other Detroit programs in its wide range of concentrations throughout the city.

“What we do differently is we have these seven classes that all work together,” she says. “It’s a cross-pollination, not just discipline-specific. They do these projects within their expertise, but they’re able to share. I think that multi-discipline approach is one of the key things that pushed our launch.”

She helped lead a program called DesignThink, where landscape architecture students studied the city’s historical architecture and urban design. . . [LA Associate Professor Pat Crawford talks more about the idea behind the DesignThink program.]

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