Future Directions: Special Initiatives
In addition to the ideas I will outline next, our Flint and Dearborn campuses will pursue initiatives appropriate to their own agendas, led by Chancellors Juan Mestas and Daniel Little.
I intend to engage the campus community broadly throughout the next year to develop promising ideas, using these guideposts of sustained academic excellence, active engagement, collaborative learning, and accessibility as a framework.
As a first step, I am introducing four presidential initiatives I will ask this campus to pursue immediately. These ideas represent opportunities for our great public university of the world to take on both societal and university challenges that reflect the aspirations I have related today. These are not the only priorities the University will explore, but the president’s office has the opportunity to identify special programs that complement the work happening across campus in the schools and colleges as we sustain our excellence and deepen the Michigan Difference.
- Support the development of multi-disciplinary paired courses and other team-teaching initiatives across departments and colleges
- Explore the creation of a center for the study of ethical issues in the public domain
- Create a University of Michigan prototype for new approaches to rational and affordable health care
- Renovate, reconnect, and expand residential life on campus
Support the development of multi-disciplinary paired courses and other team-teaching initiatives across departments and colleges
We will expand the effort to bring our interdisciplinary culture to the classroom and to our research enterprise. To foster team-teaching, the Provost’s office will establish funds for sustained team-teaching efforts. Pairing together faculty from divergent disciplines to design courses is an important way to engage our students in the fresh ideas that are emerging from intersections of scholarly fields.
Our students will learn that each discipline is given to specific formulations of issues that provide great insight but that sometimes the deep focus of a discipline does not always offer the broad insight that can emerge when viewed within the context of other fields. Disciplines help us both to see and not to see; interdisciplinary teams help us to see more widely.
The next two initiatives will carry into action our commitment to actively engage our best minds in the significant social issues of the day. So, I will ask our campus to:
Explore the creation of a center for the study of ethical issues in the public domain
In the past few years we have observed an almost cataclysmic decline in ethical behavior in public life, ranging from corporate malfeasance to egregious acts in college sports. I will ask a cross-disciplinary team of faculty members to assess faculty interest and scholarly expertise regarding the examination of ethical issues facing business, public policy-makers, cultural institutions, the sciences, and the media.
I want to know if we can build important and fresh research opportunities, curriculum, and public engagement around issues of ethics in the public domain.
Next, we will take on another major social concern as we:
Create a University of Michigan prototype for new approaches to rational and affordable health care
We enjoy a singular position of having a hospital, health care providers, an insurance company, and health policy experts. With appropriate joint incentives, we have the means to mount a broad, collaborative effort to fashion a prototype program, testing the assumption that it is feasible to promote healthy living, contain health care expenditures, and define optimal insurance coverage for individuals and families.
We can use those intellectual resources to help the nation in addressing the growing crisis in health care. There are few current issues on which the University of Michigan is better positioned to engage public discourse and provide national leadership.
Also, we must:
Renovate, reconnect, and expand residential life on campus
Comprehensive planning is underway to expand and improve the residential experience for students. This is an exciting opportunity to build collaborative and innovative spaces that will employ technology, create better environments for student living, and promote close connection between academic and residential life. We know that the physical environment is a critical element that supports the academic community and its excellence.
We have been engaged with groups of students, faculty, and administrators as we consider our residential life options; preliminary plans will be brought to the board for thorough review and discussion in the fall term. Ongoing student involvement will be very important as these plans unfold.