Thanks to the generosity of David Morris, September 2011 will see a new learning center for high school students at the Michigan Historical Center. Modeled after the Decision Room at the Harry S.Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri, the David and Betty Morris Learning Center will be only one of two in the country.
Students 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 or the PBB disaster in the 1970’s.
In three pre-visit modules, students learn about the role of government officials, key situations and review documents leading up to a particular crisis or event. In the culminating experience, students travel to the Governor’s Decision Room at the Michigan Historical Center (for a five hour session) and deal with the crisis as it unfolded in real time using newspaper articles, letters from the public and reports from government inspectors and advisors. Then they will make a decision on the best course of action to follow and present that decision in a press conference and submit to various mediums.
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 increased knowledge of civic strategies for the future. The program is designed to respond to education standards, which emphasize information gathering and analysis, problem solving, decision making, leadership, communication, group learning, the interpretation of original historical documents, and knowledge of history and government.
The Michigan History Foundation is seeking funding to cover the cost of instructors to facilitate the programs in the Learning Center. We will draw from a team of professional retired history teachers to support the daily needs of the program. A $24,000 contribution will allow up to 5 high school classes per week to visit the Center to participate in the Governor’s Decision Room. Donors will be recognized in all Learning Center materials, listed on both Center and Foundation websites, publicly recognized at the dedication ceremony and on the Foundation Donor Wall inside the Historical Center.