This September, students are sure to see images around campus tagged with the new phrase: the familiar block ‘M’ standing before a plus sign and a sleek, modern “D.” The phrase “M+D” signifies a reciprocal, sustainable relationship between the University of Michigan and Detroit. It also symbolizes an opportunity for students to begin a new chapter in their education: an experiential semester living, learning and working in an important American city. That opportunity is the Semester in Detroit program.

Through site-specific courses and short-term studies, the University has established formal connections to its hometown — the ‘U’ was founded in Detroit in 1817. However, Semester in Detroit offers arguably the most intimate undergraduate experience in Detroit, similar to a study abroad program. Semester in Detroit is the only ‘U’ program that allows students to become temporary residents of Midtown Detroit. While living at Wayne State, students take classes with faculty at the University of Michigan Detroit Center and work with local non-profits, politicians and small businesses on meaningful projects.

Some may wonder, “Why Detroit?” But perhaps the question should be, “Why would students of a university at the cutting-edge of so many fields ignore a city at the forefront of today’s most pressing challenges and innovations?” Detroit inspires innovative thinking, sprouts new community organizing opportunities through urban agriculture and bolsters Michigan’s creative reputation with a bustling visual and literary arts scene. As a historic site for social change during the 1930s labor movement and the 1960s civil rights movement, Detroit has claimed its stake as an important American city. Today, its education system, political structure and financial state present challenges. But as Semester in Detroit students will come to learn through their personal relationships, those challenges give way to triumphs, and the people of Detroit balance those extremes on a day-to-day basis.

It might be hard to imagine what the future may hold for Detroit. Heck, it might even be hard to imagine what this winter semester may hold. But students should look ahead to the winter and envision themselves engaging in hands-on learning while experiencing positive change in a nearby city.

With four successful winter semesters and two enriching spring half-terms under its belt, Semester in Detroit is one outstanding example of the University’s continued commitment to the city of Detroit. Students can help strengthen their own relationship to Detroit and apply for the Semester in Detroit Winter 2013 program.

Prospective students can learn more at the SID Information Session on Thursday, Sep. 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the Parker Room of the Union. Semester in Detroit will accept student applications online until Oct. 26.

Cassie Basler is a media assistant for Semester in Detroit.

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