What bridges the gap between past and “Future Detroit?”

The Engineering Society of Detroit recently sponsored a youth symposium. After the Future City competition was held, they decided to create a more collaborative space, where the conference’s participants from different schools could come together. It turned out to be a meeting place for more than 100 students from more than 20 middle schools to discuss what they want Detroit to look like by the time they hit 30 years old.

To help guide their answers, the ESD asked two big questions:

  1. If you were envisioning “Future Detroit,” what would it look like and how would you accomplish it?
  2. If you were a future leader of Detroit, how would you accomplish your vision of Detroit?

The overwhelming answers to the first question included less crime, better education, and more cultivation of talent and entertainment. Through the course of the symposium, the students started to address the second, much harder question. Doing so, they came up with three plans to turn Detroit around.

The first recommendation, approaching both crime and education concerns is to implement a School place Security Advisory Council (SSAC). One student comments, “We don’t need just metal detectors. We need people there for us. Get to the bottom of the issue of why people fight and try to bring weapons to school. They aren’t doing it to be bad, they just feel insecure.” The Advisory Council should strive to do just that. Members would include the larger community: teachers and administrators, but also parents, law enforcement, and community and governmental leaders.

The student’s second recommendation is one that inspires more collaborative learning. They suggest Detroit Public Schools establish a Learning Interactive Council (LIC). This is an effort largely focused on retaining student interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The council would include instructors who specialize in these fields as well as engineering and scientific professionals and representatives from several universities.

The third suggestion the students give us is to find a way to encourage self-expression in the arts (or add the A to STEM and give it STEAM!). They say the City of Detroit, in conjunction with the New Economy Initiative, the Kresge Foundation, and other interested participants, should establish a “talent incubator” in Detroit middle and high schools. They’re hoping that Detroit-raised artists and celebrities would act as mentors for enrolled students.

For more information on the symposium and details on the student’s brainstorming sessions and plans, visit the full report.

Photo credit: Karpov the Wrecked Train. See the full set of photos at our Flickr.


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