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Urban Planning earns national recognition through Michigan Public Health Training Center ‘Promising Practice’ award

An initiative led by the Taubman College Urban and Regional Planning program called, Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom (MECC), has earned a "Promising Practice" award. The award, given by the United States Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), was made possible through the efforts of the Michigan Public Health Training Center; a training arm of the University of Michigan's School of Public Health Office of Public Health Practice.

Richard Norton, chair of the Urban and Regional Planning Program, facilitated the multi-disciplinary initiative with students and faculty from the College of Engineering, Ford School of Public Policy, and the School of Public Health. MECC is designed to connect university students work with community partners to collaborate on community issues of planning, governance, and economic development.

According to the ASPPH website, the Michigan Engaging Community through the Classroom initiative earned the award for its "innovative approach to cross-disciplinary education," and how the program "provided students with the opportunity to learn how health is impacted by many influences."

Given the interdisciplinary nature of this initiative many faculty from across the university deserve recognition for this award including: Associate Dean Phyllis Meadows who was the Principal Investigator for the School of Public Health; Paul Fontaine, a lecturer in the Urban and Regional Planning program; María Arquero de Alarcón, an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning; Elisabeth Gerber, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy , Gail Horner, College of Engineering; and Trish Korman, School of Public Health.

The MECC initiative is entering its second year of community collaboration thanks to seed funding from the Office of the Vice Provost for Global and Engaged Education and the Office of Government Relations. Funding for the Public Health project was made possible by the HRSA Bureau of Health Professions via the Michigan Public Health Training Center.

Visit the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health website for more information on the award.

More about MECC:

This initiative seeks to explore possibilities for coordinating multi-unit community-based student projects and developing a workable plan for advancing a classroom-community collaboration. The initiative fits with the University of Michigan's mission to integrate research, teaching, and public service in innovative ways. MECC leverages ongoing community-oriented professional undergraduate and graduate courses that are offered routinely at UM by coordinating a selection of those courses on a given locality and a set of related problems. The goal of the initiative is to simultaneously improve the learning opportunities for the students involved and the outreach service provided to the communities involved.
The Urban and Regional Planning program teamed with various U-M and community partners during its initial Winter 2013 collaboration, which focused on a range of governance, economic development, and neighborhood issues surrounding the Willow Run Airport and West Willow community.
University of Michigan partners included: Ford School of Public Policy, School of Public Health, College of Engineering, Office of University Development, Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of Government Relations. Participating community partners included: SPARK, Washtenaw County, City of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, RACER Trust, Willow Run Airport, and the New West Willow Neighborhood Association.

Dec 9, 2013

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