Coalition led by Eastern Michigan University professor recognized for advancing STEM culture in southeast Michigan

Group helps teachers find new ways of educating students to solve real-world problems

Young students participate in a hands-on, STEM-based activity.
(Photo by Leisa Thompson for SEMIS)

YPSILANTI - The Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition (SEMIS), led by Eastern Michigan University Professor Ethan Lowenstein was awarded the Critical Partners Award by MiSTEM Network, an advisory council for the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The award was given to Lowenstein and EMU alumna Lisa Voelker for helping students reach their full potential through place-based education in their communities.

According to MiSTEM, the SEMIS Coalition received the Critical Partners Award for their outstanding work towards advancing the STEM culture in the region and their positive impact on equitable access to STEM careers. They were also recognized for advancing 3-P learning (project, problem, and place-based), a form of interdisciplinary learning that helps students get to the root of complex problems.

“We have a profound respect for the educators, students, and advocates who are changing the world through STEM education," said Lowenstein. "It is an honor to receive this award and we look forward to continuing our contributions to the vibrant STEM ecosystem in Michigan."

Lowenstein said the coalition equips educators with hands-on learning opportunities and tools right where they live.

SEMIS projects have included young people designing and building outdoor learning spaces, studying how water flows during flooding events, and using math to determine where to plant trees and rain gardens to remediate the flooding, among others.

The SEMIS Coalition was formed in 2008 and is a regional hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. The SEMIS Coalition's local home is Engage@EMU and EMU's College of Education. With the help of these entities, the coalition has focused on supporting schools, teachers, community partner organizations, and grassroots community groups that use a place-based education approach.

“When place-based education works well, we see tremendous academic, social, and civic outcomes,” said Lowenstein. “Students form strong connections to their community, experience social growth, and develop high levels of self-worth."

To learn more about the SEMIS Coalition, visit the webpage. To learn more about the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, visit the webpage. To learn more about MiSTEM, visit the webpage.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

March 15, 2023

Written by:
Andrew Fogle

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher