Resistance along the Fluid Frontier: The Detroit River Project International Freedom Curriculum - Detroit River Story Lab

Resistance along the Fluid Frontier: The Detroit River Project International Freedom Curriculum

Resistance along the Fluid Frontier is a place-based curriculum on anti-slavery resistance along the Detroit River during the period of the Underground Railroad. Designed by an international team for use in eighth-grade US history classes in Michigan as well as in seventh-grade Canadian history classes in Ontario, the curriculum invites students to take on the role of community historians to explore the early history of abolition, anti-racist organizing, border crossing, and freedom seeking along both sides of the Detroit River. 

Through five well-resourced lessons based on nine case studies, students learn from the studies of prominent historians, research the inspiring stories of little-known freedom seekers, and work in teams to create their own historical narratives and exhibits that elevate these stories and enrich our shared understanding of both regional and national history.  Throughout the process, students explore connections between today’s struggles for racial justice and the long legacy of resistance and border crossing in our region. The immersive nature of the curriculum helps them develop important skills that will better prepare them for college coursework, including historical reading and research skills, the ability to contribute to collaborative group work, and the ability to present their work to public audiences.

The curriculum was developed by the Detroit River Project, working in partnership with U-M’s Detroit River Story Lab and Center for Education Design, Evaluation, and Research. An initial version was piloted by UM’s Wolverine Pathways program in July 2021 and subsequently field tested by two dozen river-adjacent schools in Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario in the first half of 2022. Revisions were made in response to teacher and student feedback, and the curriculum is now being made available for teachers who would like to incorporate it into their classes. While teachers everywhere are invited to use the curriculum, we expect it will resonate most strongly with communities along the Detroit River in Michigan and Ontario.

To learn more about the curriculum and partnership opportunities, please complete and submit this online inquiry form. Note that all materials are protected by copyright and available solely for classroom instructional use by invited educators. Visit the Detroit River Project website for further information.

lsa logoum logoU-M Privacy StatementAccessibility at U-M