We're redefining what it means to be a college town.
A partnership that pilots community-engaged, sustainable projects to address real world challenges in the Southeast neighborhood of South Bend, IN.
It's about so much more than a creek
While Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem started out as a creek revitalization initiative, it has grown to become much more than that. To answer the question, “what do you do here”, it is important to understand what an Educational Ecosystem is. This new model of internship encourages students to bring positive change in their city while simultaneously working on creative solutions to community issues and focusing on individual development. A defining characteristic of an Educational Ecosystem is the diversity of age, race, gender, level of education, major, and career goals of members. We have 30 interns coming from 13 different educational institutions, with majors ranging from engineering to ethnography and everything in between. Interns, ages 16 to 48, work together on projects that make a difference.
Students aren’t given a mindless task to complete. They’re given a real project with real impact. This authentic style of learning allows for interns to grow and engage with their community in ways that can’t be replicated in a traditional classroom. They’re fully immersed in the community, working with the neighbors, not for or in the neighborhood.
Using South Bend’s spirit of innovation as a springboard, projects started in Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem are piloted and prepared to scale throughout the city, region, and even nation. We’re getting students – high school through graduate school – out of their campus bubbles and into the community. Our projects tackle some of the biggest issues facing our city including vacant lots, sewage overflow, lead poisoning, and affordable housing using sustainable practices.
An Educational Ecosystem does not have to be centered on sustainability. In fact, this model can be focused on almost any important issue. It’s about giving students opportunities to learn, grow, succeed, and fail.