More than 40 people convened at the Biological Station on August 17, 2014. Over the course of the day, with guidance from ZingTrain, they created a 5-page document that describes a vision for the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in twenty years.

Highlights of the vision include

  • scholarships, fellowships, and facilities that attract student and faculty researchers who are broadly representative of the U.S. population in terms of ethnicity, race, gender identification, geographic location, culture and socioeconomic background;
  • a “green” campus that generates more electricity than it consumes;
  • an off-site science and education center;
  • greater inclusion of the social sciences, arts and humanities in our research projects and course offerings.

These and other items in the final Vision Statement have a connecting theme: sharing. Whether it is researchers from different fields working together to study climate or habitats or telling local communities what we learn from that research, UMBS is committed to creating conversations around important regional issues. “[R]esearch now informs local and regional land and water resource management practices…[and] has fostered new interdisciplinary courses and has strengthened our interactions with environmental stewardship organizations,” the Vision Statement reads.

We're All in This Together

Participants in the visioning process included UMBS faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as representatives from the Station’s External Advisory Board and Executive Committee, and regional organizations such as Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC), and the Douglas Lake Improvement Association (DLIA). Tom Bailey, Executive Director of LTC, said the inclusion of local stakeholders “speaks volumes” about the value the Station leadership places on relationships and collaborations throughout the region.

“We’re all in this together,” says UMBS Director Knute Nadelhoffer. “The Station is a resource not only for the students and scientists who study here, but for the Great Lakes Region. We are learning about things that impact the region now and into the future. Of course, this has important global implications. As we learn more about how our region functions, our science can be applied more broadly.  At this forum, however, we wanted to hear how the Station can best serve the citizens of our state and region.” Nadelhoffer opened the day by welcoming “a group of people who have never all sat in a room together” despite their shared involvement with UMBS.

Nadelhoffer gave the group an overview of the Station’s current programs, assets and liabilities. ZingTrain then led participants through a series of brainstorming, prioritizing and refining exercises. Many hours, sheets of newsprint, and small group discussions later, the group had a draft document reflecting its shared priorities for a vision of UMBS in 2034. “I liked the reductive process,” said participant Frank Beaver, a member of DLIA and a Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan. “We started expansively then closed the umbrella to focus on specific areas.”