This week at the Archives of Michigan we are piloting a new and exciting education program. With generous and valuable assistance from the staff at the White House Decision Center, Truman Presidential Library, the Archives has developed a program titled “The Governor’s Decision Room.” Five area students have worked with us to refine and test this new program.
Students will play the role of the Governor and the Cabinet as they examine actual reports placed before state leaders in times past. The issues will be tough ones, such as the events of the 1967 Detroit Riot. In three pre-visit modules, students learn about the role of government officials and key situations, and review documents leading up to a particular crisis.
In the culminating experience, students travel to the Governor’s Decision Room at the Archives of Michigan and deal with the crisis as it unfolded in real time using newspaper articles, letters from the public and reports from government inspectors, and advisers. Then they will make a decision on the best course of action to follow and present that decision in a press conference. The final step will be a discussion of their decision compared to the historic decision made by the Governor.
Through this real-life exercise, students gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of government, as well as its basic structure. They also leave with better learning and civic strategies for the future.
The program will be open to high school students beginning in Fall 2010. The Decision Room consists of three classroom modules and one onsite module at the Archives. Private funding has been provided by David and Betty Morris through the Michigan History Foundation to create a unique learning center allowing students to experience the environs of the executive staff. Contact the Archives of Michigan for further information.