University Scholars Honors Program immerses into community projects with new space
University Scholars Honors Program found a new home in the Innovations and Wellness Commons, a project in Milwaukee’s Lindsay Heights neighborhood created by nonprofit developer Walnut Way Conservation Corp.
“The space will be a field office for the University Scholars Honors Program, one that encourages true collaboration with both Walnut Way and members of the Lindsay Heights community,” said Michael Carrier, director of the University Scholars Honors Program and associate professor in the Humanities, Social Science and Communication Department.
The Honors Program combines experiential learning, real-world projects and community service into one, and the new partnership and space provides endless opportunities to expand on exactly that.
“A crucial component of the Honors Program is a commitment to servant-leadership. The new office will provide space where MSOE students and community members can work collaboratively on real-world projects that will benefit both MSOE learners and those who live in Lindsay Heights.”
The Honors Program works on different servant-leadership projects with a variety of community partners. It has been working with Walnut Way and other members of the Lindsay Heights community for the past five years. Not only will the new space be more accessible for community partners, it also provides students with an immersive experience.
“The best way to learn about a community is to spend time in it. The field office will allow our students to truly immerse themselves in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. This will strengthen the relationships that are necessary for servant-leadership projects to truly succeed.”
Carrier imagines the space as a place where project planning, listening sessions, academic workshops, cultural events, and project design and build work can be carried out in a welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff and community. The Honors Program expects to move into the new office once the lease is signed.
“I’m most excited to really flip the way most servant-leadership/service-learning projects tend to work in higher education. I want the impetus for the project to come from the community itself—and I want the work to be done on such projects to take place in the community. I want to create a truly equal relationship between partners, one that stresses respect and reciprocity.”
To kick-off the season, the Honors Program will be working with Walnut Way on their Community Wealth project. Specifically, they will be helping develop an online platform that allows entrepreneurs in Lindsay Heights to sell their products through an e-commerce site. The platform will also allow employers to post jobs for potential employees. Further down the road, the Honors Program will be working with Walnut Way and other community partners on a project that physically marks the path the Underground Railroad took through Lindsay Heights.