In January, 2016, the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) received a grant from the U-M Provost's Transforming Learning for a Third Century Initiative.
Our Transforming Learning Program (TLP) brings new courses and students to the Biological Station for field-based experiences. Students come from disciplines and backgrounds not typically represented at environmental field stations. Their presence diversifies the conversations and research housed in our lakeside community, and they have the types of immersive experiences which we excel at providing, but which may not be the norm in their areas of study. This cross-fertilization is integral to preparing a new generation of broadly-informed and highly-effective environmental problem solvers.
The Transforming Learning Program has 3 goals:
- Diversifying the UMBS student body (by discipline, academic year, race/ethnicity, generation status, family income)
- Maximizing use of the station, particularly at times of the year when it has historically had excess capacity (e.g. May, late August, U-M’s fall and winter semesters)
- Increasing science literacy/understanding among the new cohort of students
The traditional University of Michigan Biological Station curriculum has focused on biology, ecology and atmospheric-climate science. Students in these classes tend to be disproportionately white, middle class and relatively advanced in their academic studies. We recognize that addressing social-environmental problems requires people with all kinds of training, backgrounds, and experiences with built and natural environments. TLP aims to host as many of these future problem-solvers as possible.
TLP Course Models
Initially, nearly all of the TLP courses combined academic-year coursework on the Ann Arbor campus (typically, but not necessarily, in Winter Term) with a 2- to 4-week field extension at UMBS after the end of the semester. This is still the dominant model, but we have some courses that take other forms such as:
- stand-alone short courses taught entirely at the station in 2-4 weeks;
- fall or winter semester courses on the Ann Arbor campus that include brief (weekend or fall break), supplementary stays at the station.