Students Show Resilience in the Rain
At the end of August, the eleventh class of the Graham Institute’s Undergraduate Sustainability Scholars program spent three days on a rainy camping retreat in a Michigan park. During this first activity as a cohort, scholars get to know each other, dive into deep conversations around wicked sustainability problems, share and support goals, and participate in leadership activities.
This year’s cohort of twenty-five outstanding U-M juniors hail from over fifteen areas of study across six of U-M’s schools and colleges. Majors range from statistics, business, international studies, environmental engineering, information science, plant biology, policy, public health and more.
Great Strength Lies in Diversity
These students will bring their unique personal and academic perspectives over the next two years through a 9-credit series of courses and co-curricular activities. Time spent with those outside your academic discipline creates a more robust academic experience and understanding of systems-thinking. Scholars compared their discipline’s definition of sustainability. Discussions, especially light night around a campfire, with those different from oneself build a richer worldview – essential for shaping sustainability leaders of the future.
Support and Training for Future Sustainability Leaders
Retreat activities such as “spider-web” are part of the leadership, communication, and teamwork skills highlighted in seminars, semester-long team projects, discussions with sustainability practitioners, and personal field-based sustainability courses supported during the program.
2017 brought us what may be our most resilient cohort yet. From day one, they smiled through the rain when learning each other’s names, banded together to start a campfire during a brief respite from the downpour, sang songs while kayaking in a drizzle, and kept each other positive all the way through until the sun finally broke through, and they celebrated together while volunteering on a local, organic farm on our final day.