Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education creates collaborative space to nurture relationships and respond to educational and community needs

A woman, standing, participates in a group activity at EMU's COE-hosted workshop.

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University’s College of Education hosted the “Workshop for Educational Collaboration and Community.” Community agencies, organizations, and advocacy groups convened for the inaugural workshop to evoke creative and collaborative development in response to local educational and community needs.

“The purpose of this event was two-fold, said Christopher Robbins, professor of social foundations for EMU’s College of Education and event organizer. “First, we inaugurated The workshop as a workgroup,” said Robbins. The group intends to develop long-term collaborative relationships with community partners who serve children and family needs between the home and the school. Second, we established foundational, relational elements to develop the group's vision further.”

The day involved faculty, graduate students, and community partners actively engaging with one another in a cross-sector approach. Robbins said an underlying objective was to introduce community partners to a novel way of building capacity between educational institutions and the community. 

Lisa Voelker, assistant director of the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition and workshop recipient, said she felt inspired by the energy in the room. “My biggest goal was to understand who the people are in the room and start to make sense of the different ways that people show up and care.” Voelker said she left the meeting with a better sense of the makeup of Washtenaw County. 

Robbins initiated the workshop concept and planned the event with several faculty members for four months. “From start to finish, it has been a collaborative process, and now we seek to widen the reach of collaboration by engaging potential community partners in further building our vision and building the workshop. In this regard, I want to generate interest and trust by allowing community partners to put their mark on the model.”

"This community-centered and collaborative effort reflects the values and vision of the College of Education and our commitment to support learning for children and families in all dimensions," said Ryan Gildersleeve, dean of EMU’s College of Education.

“As an inaugural event, we aim to engender trust by engaging in active collaboration, showcasing community voices, and inviting potential community partners to shape our vision,” said Robbins. 

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.

July 26, 2023

Written by:
Melissa Thrasher

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher