As residents of the state of Michigan, whether that be temporarily or permanently, living in a state surrounded by the Great Lakes is something we can often take for granted. The Great Lakes have a lot to offer and so many Michigan students might spend their entire time in the state without experiencing them. That’s why Michigan’s new English departmental humanities program, Great Lakes Arts, Cultures, and Environments (GLACE), is a great opportunity for students to experience a different side of Michigan while also earning credit. The program takes place in Northern Michigan and will cover four two-credit courses, with classes ranging from two English courses, one anthropology and one American culture. The classes are interconnected with the purpose of providing a unique insight into our relationship with ourselves and the nature around us.
Similar to the English department’s New England Literature Program (NELP), much of the writing that is completed between the two English courses is in a journal. Within these journals, students openly discuss the pieces they’ve written for their discussion groups and expand on those pieces. The journals simultaneously serve as assignments, discussion points, and a time capsule of their time in Northern Michigan.
Aside from encouraging students to expand on their writing skills, the program aims to teach students about the history and culture that surrounds the Great Lakes and focus on the students’ experiences while living in rural Northern Michigan with a new group of people. The community aspect of GLACE is one of the most important features of their mission. Four faculty members lead a small group of students throughout the five-week program, allowing for direct relationships to be built and the opportunity for a strong community foundation to be laid. The courses take a dynamic approach to learning – combining literary texts as well as taking into consideration the environment and history of where the students will be studying. The English, anthropology, and American culture courses are connected by a few common themes: how we identify ourselves in relation to our landscape and the location in which we reside. GLACE will help students take a community-based learning approach – learning from themselves, their instructors, and their fellow students.
The vast forests, lakes, and small towns with unique histories that occupy Northern Michigan provide a great way for students to experience a different side of Michigan, especially one different from Ann Arbor. Apart from getting credits and learning in a new environment, students will have opportunities to explore the nature of Up North Michigan, including hiking, swimming, and trips to surrounding towns. The Great Lakes are an important aspect of the state of Michigan’s identity. It is also one many people never truly get to experience. This new English departmental program is a great opportunity for students to see Michigan through a different lens while simultaneously receiving class credit.
If any students reading this are interested in GLACE, there will be a mass meeting on Wednesday, February 12 at 5pm in 3154 Angell Hall. Applications are due February 21st. For any questions, you can check out the GLACE website or contact program director Ingrid Diran at email@example.com.