The Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition is honored to have received the 2023 MiSTEM Critical Partner Award.

Read the Eastern Michigan University newsletter article and Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity press release.

Acceptance Remarks – by Dr. Ethan Lowenstein

March 2, 2023

Our young people are growing up in a world that is unparalleled in its complexity. 

A world in which individual and collective wellbeing is not where we want or need it to be. 

We know this in our hearts and feel this deep in our bones, every day, whether we acknowledge and name it or not. 

Who knows a young person who faces issues of anxiety, depression, or trauma? And the number of raised hands was the same I might add when I asked this question before the pandemic?

Who has a really difficult time coming to terms with the climate crisis and the impact that this crisis is having and will have on us and our young people? Who has a hard time holding the realities of the climate crisis psychologically? 

Who believes that as a society, as a country, as a world, we must learn to solve problems with, and have compassion for, those who may think very differently than we do?

So a question we must ask ourselves is STEM for what? For whose benefit? 

Is STEM used to heal or to hurt, to unite or to fracture, to benefit not only the individual by preparing them for a well paying job, but prepare the individual to be a leader in creating the healthy, just, and caring communities we so desperately need right now.

Are we helping students develop a STEM identity or a particular kind of STEM identity? 

One in which STEM is seen as a powerful tool to benefit the communities in which students live. 

In which young people have a chance to collaborate with others, even when they might disagree with them. 

Are our young people having STEM experiences in which they see themselves as part of nature, not separate from it, where they use STEM knowledge to work with nature, not against it?

Are we giving young people an education In which they don’t have to make a decision between a good career and doing good?

For over 15 years, the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition has been supporting schools, teachers, community partner organizations, and grassroots community groups to use a place-based approach so that students can experience this kind of powerful STEM learning. 

We are incredibly honored to receive this award from MiSTEM Region#2 and to have been a partner with MiSTEM, really since its inception. 

I want to thank Scott Heister especially for his vision and commitment and guidance and for working so closely with us, through the pandemic to adapt our powerful work to such a new and challenging world and to partner with others who share our vision. We know how hard you work Scott, often behind the scenes. Thank you.

And finally, I want to thank the SEMIS teachers– let’s be real, it’s always been hard to be a teacher, especially one that uses a place- and community-based approach, but it’s particularly rough out there right now. It is rough. We know that our teachers are our nation’s true heroes who deserve at least twice the pay, and much more recognition. And I want to congratulate the teachers honored here tonight for your accomplishments and for those who you represent.