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Marygrove College Liberal Arts Building facade

Detroit P–20 Partnership

Academic Features


  • An integrated public education system on a single campus, giving students the option of attending the same school from pre-K through 12th grade
  • School-wide focus on social justice, providing students with the skills to critically examine, navigate, and work to change the power structures that shape their lives
  • Deep exposure to the principles of design thinking in the context of engineering, architecture, urban planning, and business, with a goal of preparing students to be makers and leaders in their present and future communities
  • Project- and place-based curriculum collaboratively developed by U-M and DPSCD staff, faculty, and students
  • Late school start time (9:00 a.m.), in line with recent research on adolescent brain functioning, with school day until 4:00 p.m.
  • Additional collaboration with other U-M campus units (e.g., College of Engineering, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, School of Music, Theatre & Dance) and Detroit-based organizations
  • Access to U-M resources (e.g., the library, museums, the arts)

Project- and Place-Based Learning


We are committed to providing project- and place-based learning opportunities dedicated to advancing social justice, fostering student agency, and connecting students’ academic work to their larger communities. In collaboration with the U-M College of Engineering, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and many other units, the curriculum will be forward thinking, dynamic, and designed to teach students cutting-edge design technologies and processes. Students will encounter these opportunities in ALL of their classes; they will be leaders designing change.

School Design Project
In the early years, students will participate in the design and construction of their future school building. This work will be multi-disciplinary because students will consider both the social and technical needs of the school. In later years, they will engage in projects that connect them to the expertise, stories, histories, and needs of the larger Marygrove neighborhood.

Sensors in a Shoebox
In this collaboration with the U-M College of Engineering, students will learn how to ask and address critical questions about their neighborhoods. They will employ multiple research methods to answer those questions, including the use of innovative sensor technology (shoebox kits) to learn about neighborhood features such as vehicle traffic and air quality. They will present their findings and proposed solutions to local civic leaders.

Design/Engineering Class
All students will take a design thinking/engineering class each year in which they will learn the basic processes of human-centered design while focusing on pressing social problems or issues in their community, school, or society more broadly. Students will identify problems through consideration and analysis of their own experiences, and/or through conversations with community members. They will engage in brainstorming, problem discovery, empathy building, and user persona development, as well as other processes of human-centered design. Finally, they will develop and field test a basic solution prototype, refine it, and then present it to a public audience in a pitch session.