As much as we enjoy academic inquiry, CARSS projects are created to go out into the world and make a big and meaningful difference. Projects typically come to us as ambitious ideas or perplexing “What ifs.” Over time – typically 2-4 years – we steer them toward greater clarity and more concrete goals as they develop their own leadership and funding. And once they’ve evolved into productive and self sustaining ventures, we launch them into new, permanent homes in other campus units. We’ve helped our teams combine their knowledge, expertise and passion into new ways of teaching, doing business and understanding the world.
Doing Well, Doing Good
Global corporations have the reach and resources to influence big social problems. In some cases they act on behalf of the public good while the public sector stands on the sidelines. The Global Corporations and Human Well-Being project brought together engaged scholars and corporate and policy leaders to explore the idea of corporate social responsibility and understand its challenges and motivations. The project produced new knowledge and multiple publications, and its legacy lives on in the work of several scholars and U-M’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise.
A New Approach to Closing the Gap
Unless someone steps in to change their course, children who fall behind academically in their early school years tend to stay behind. Part of a larger initiative called School Reform and Beyond (SRB), the school reform project addressed that achievement gap. It included an innovative social-emotional learning intervention called SECURe, integrated into an early elementary literacy and whole-school reform platform. Formal pilot testing with this intervention began in the fall of 2010 in the Atlanta Public Schools.
Giving without getting
What’s in it for me? The dominant understanding of human behavior holds that self-interest ultimately drives our actions. But not everyone fits the mold. The Developing Alternatives to Self-Interest project evolved from a series of luncheon seminars exploring the anomalies of unselfishness and altruism. The project produced a number of legacy products, including a book, Moving Beyond Self-Interest: Perspectives from Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, and the Social Sciences, soon to be published by Oxford University Press.
Sustainable Mobility: How do we get there from here?
As more of the world’s population settles in cities and large, congested metropolitan regions, the need for sustainable, accessible transportation grows more and more acute. The Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation (SMART) project addressed that need from a broad, systemic perspective. CARSS recruited a leader from the world of urban planning who organized an ongoing forum for addressing mobility and accessibility challenges as not just technical matters, but also systemic, social and economic ones. SMART grew fast and created academic courses, research, and student-led projects on campus. It also created many vibrant links to industry, government and NGOs around the world.