University of Michigan
March 9 – 11, 2016
Ann Arbor + Detroit
Students explored how creative partnerships can transform and revitalize communities
Building on the success of the 2014 a2ru Student Conference at Stanford, and the 2015 Summit at Virginia Commonwealth University, a2ru organized our third annual Emerging Creatives Student Summit titled RISE: Forging Resilient Communities hosted by the University of Michigan, March 9-11, 2016.
There is increasing recognition of the power of creative work to aid local economic development and quality of life in communities across the country and the world. Michigan and the Detroit area in particular have been innovators and leaders in finding creative, sustainable solutions to grand challenges through cross-sector partnerships that leverage the creative energy of its citizens. RISE: Forging Resilient Communities, brought students from all disciplines to the University of Michigan campus and Detroit to explore not only how creative partnerships can transform and revitalize communities in sustainable ways, but also learn tools to bring back to their own campuses.
Observations from Harry Rice, student journalist and Senior at the University of Michigan, studying in the Program in the Environment:
“Deep in the crowded basement of University of Michigan’s Munger Residence Hall, three students work in near silence, as each of them sits fixated on the respective work. To someone passing by, this group may seem to be studying together or just wasting time on their computers. However, these three are hard at work on the site, Locall Space, a platform that they hope will bridge the gap between communities across the country who are building resilience in innovative ways. Not to mention, they created this amazing site in under 72 hours.
This was just one group among the many students who came to Ann Arbor for the third annual Alliance for Arts in Research Universities’ student conference, which focused on building resilient communities. As someone simply watching the students work, it was amazing to see the diversity among them, as over 25 different universities and 50 different majors were represented.
During the conference, the students heard from a number of speakers ranging from academics to artists to scientists, but each of them had one common message, ‘Keep yourselves uncomfortable by trying new things and never stop collaborating.’ All of the students seemed to embrace this idea as they came together to create their own ways to help communities.
The connections made here amongst the students, faculty, and community leaders seem to be the key to a successful future. The wicked problems that our world is facing will not be solved with people in isolation, but rather by a collective effort from a variety of individuals ranging in both interests and expertise. This alliance and this conference are models for how these connections can be made and maintained in the future, and I must admit, it’s bright.”