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Welcome to this demonstration site that showcases some of the web-based simulations and writing projects offered by the Interactive Communications & Simulations group, based at the School of Education on the University of Michigan's main Ann Arbor campus, and at the Flint campus. Our work is co-sponsored by partners at the UM School of Information, the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies , the Michigan Community Scholars Program, and the Program on Intergroup Relations

You'll find links to more information about our ImagineNation Matters, Arab-Israeli Conflict and Place out of Time simulations along the left-hand side of this page. Place out of Time runs only in the fall, ImagineNation Matters only in the winter, and Arab-Israeli Conflict runs in both the fall and the winter.

We also offer the Michigan Student Caucus project, the International Poetry Guild, and the Earth Odysseys projects. The first two projects run both in the fall and the winter terms, while the Earth Odyssey project runs in the fall term.

The Michigan Student Caucus (MSC) is a program representing the interests of students, K-12 through post-secondary, in Michigan. It is not affiliated with any political party. Using a specially designed website, students debate issues, write resolutions, and vote to select those resolutions that will be incorporated in the MSC platform. Twice a year, participants present the MSC platform to a bipartisan commission of the Michigan Legislature, at a special hearing in Lansing. Students also propose and carry out service actions that benefit their communities. The program is open to any high school or university student interested in making a difference in Michigan. Students may enroll in a course for college credit, with coursework centering on MSC participation. MSC proposals and testimony from participants have influenced actual legislation. With the help of numerous state and local politicians, our goal is to give students an increasingly important voice in state government.

In the International Poetry Guild (IPG), writers from upper elementary school through high school are connected with peers and with university student mentors. The student poets share their poetry at our password-protected web site, and (at the teacher's option--this is not a requirement) publish journals of student poetry. The university student mentors write responses to student poems and try to model how creative writers talk with one another about their work. IPG was founded and continues to exist on the assumption that young writers need safe and supportive places to pursue their writing and to talk about their work. We consider it a most significant endeavor to try to stake out such a place--that's our goal with this project.

Earth Odyssey is built around stories told by travelers visiting interesting parts of our world. Our current Odyssey will visit Morocco, and will feature a web-based interactive discussion that offered students an opportunity to get a glimpse into life at this important point of connection between Africa and Europe while also exploring the experience of the traveler, and questions of how people of different cultures observe and interact with one another. During the activity, our team of university student mentors will facilitate discussions among our participating middle school and high schools students, covering such topics as press censorship, behavioral norms on subways and in public places, health care, and much more. These issues (and many more) are framed by the traveler's reports, which the student participants read and respond to with questions, connections they make to their own lives, or whatever comments they might wish to share. The mentors work with the students, sometimes responding to questions and sometimes posing new ones, always trying to frame rich discussion topics geared towards helping the student participants to think more expansively, and to make useful connections to their lives and to their world.